Friday, April 21, 2017

Ten



The double-digits age is finally here for my only child—my son—and as it settles, I am forced to welcome it like a permanent guest in my home, wreaking turbulence in my predictable day-to-day.  There is a distinct politeness to this permanent house guest that no parent ever misses. It makes sure you are slowly acquainted with it even before its official arrival. As a mother, I have seen its shadow peeking every so often in the past six months. At first I was in denial of it but the more I recognized it, the stronger I fought knowing full well this is a futile battle. 

He’s starting to look a little different. One moment I was straining my neck to look down at him when we speak, and the next I notice his head right by my chin. I still can’t adequately describe what I felt—a mixture of panic, confusion, and sadness—the first time I saw my boy reaching for his glass from the cupboard’s upper shelf without asking for any help. My arms that have always lifted him so willingly have now been replaced by his hardworking toes, balancing and holding his weight while his arms stretch to reach some coveted trophy.  

He’s starting to sound a little different. I can already hear the tone of defiance, though I’ve made sure he understands the difference between defiance and disrespect. He is wise enough to know I can tolerate one and not the other. 

The jokes are changing, his vocabulary beautifully expanding especially when he expresses his frustrations with me and my rules. If he only knew how I vacillate between hurt and awe when he shows me his capacity to use his words in expressing his anger towards me. 

His needs and preferences are evolving. His excitement was immeasurable when we finally agreed that he can do away with his booster seat in the car. And he couldn’t be any more proud when he proved to us he is now more comfortable riding MY bike than sticking to his smaller one. 

Mention of friends’ names are also becoming more frequent, affections more sincere, and the desire to spend time with them whether face-to-face or online playing games is stronger.

His self-conscious version has definitely arrived. Hair styling products in my cabinet are no longer just mine, and he has found his own voice when it comes to deciding on haircuts. He now also seems to care more about his outfits and how certain shirts hug his body, when before he couldn't care less if I put on him a shirt two sizes too small. 

Ten. It has been ten years since I gave birth to this wonderful spirit, this most beautiful child in my world who never ceases to overwhelm me with love and joy. Ten years of watching him grow and making me proud every step of the way have spoiled me into believing I will always be number one in his life; that, in spite of my exhaustion and complaints, I will always be needed and be the sole source of his comfort. 

But change is here and has been here though I refused to give it full attention. I've reasoned that I can keep deceiving myself for as long as certain habits remain—his need to still be tucked in at night; his need to twirl my hair so he can relax and fall asleep; his desire to be held tight and carried even though his feet dangle and reach inches beyond my knees; or his willingness to let me sniff him and still call him 'baby', though never in public. 

I'm fully aware that soon even these habits will end. Soon, he may become unrecognizable and I may find myself arguing with someone who will almost feel like a stranger to me, as I utter to him these words most parents with teens and pre-teens have said over and overWhat have you done to my child? Where is he, and could you bring him back?
  
As my son opens his arms to welcome 10, I simultaneously feel his grip loosening on mine. I expect at some point he would no longer be able to hold on tightly to both my grip, as well as the double digits. He will choose and it is my grip that would have to let go. It will tear me inside but I know it’s the most loving choice any parent can make. 

My home and my heart are ready for this permanent guest, the double digits. We are both strong-willed, we will clash and both of us will insist we only want what is best for my son. It will take my son farther from me, mentally, emotionally and physically. But I’ve been here far longer than this guest. What I need my son to realize is that no matter where the double-digits take him, Mommy and Daddy will always be home to him. He will become strong enough, tall enough to reach for the stars on his own, but he will always know that his parents' unconditional love and faith in him are what gave him wings. 

4 comments:

  1. Happy Double-Digits to your son! Have fun celebrating with him. xo

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  2. Happy birthday to your son. The way that you expressed watching your son spread his wings and become his own person is beautiful. Enjoy!

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    1. Thanks so much, Alice! I'm happy you enjoyed the read. It was a busy weekend celebration but it was all worth it, seeing my son so happy with his friends. :-)

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