This week my son, my baby, will turn 18 years old.
The past 18 years have been filled with so many amazing experiences. This little boy came into our lives at a point when we had almost given up hope that our daughter would have a sibling. Born just ten days after her birthday, he was her birthday present when she turned five. Simply put, he completed our family.
In honor of his 18th birthday, and as I stand at the precipice of his graduating high school and leaving for college, I thought it would be a nice time to reprint an article I wrote about him that was published in the Suffolk County News on September 6, 2001. None of us knew then how our lives would change within a week. The destruction of the twin towers destroyed lives and destroyed the sense of peace and safety that Americans had come to know since the end of the Cold War. Yes there were wars, but they weren’t here. We had stopped looking at the sky with fear. How wrong we were.
A few months after this article was published, I faced a personal crises that almost ended my life. I will speak about that at another time, but I wanted you to know that no matter how important time with my children was before this time in my life, it was nothing compared to how important time with them was about to become. So for your enjoyment, here is my article, “Kindergarten Mom”:
Before he goes to sleep he still says, “Will you come and check on me in the night?” and I say, “Of course.” He still comes running to me during the day and asks, “Can I have a big hug?” and I say, “Of course.” And he still asks me, “How much do you love me mommy?” and I say, “To infinity and beyond.” But now my youngest child is entering full-day kindergarten.
He wants to be a superhero and special agent when he’s a teenager, and when he’s all grown up he’s going to be the first astronaut to live on Mars, but for now he sits on the couch in the living room watching cartoons on morning television.
I have had a baby or small child home for 10 years now, so this is going to be quite an adjustment for me. The idea of having some time for myself is quite appealing; however, it comes at the expense of having my child grow up, and with the knowledge that soon he will become as independent as his older sister.
He wakes up every morning now and asks, “Am I going to school today?” I answer, “In a few more days.” The excitement he feels at finally being a “kindergartner” is a joy to watch. Since he was two, he’s been waiting to get on that school bus with the bigger kids. Now it’s his turn.
So, I’ll put him on that school bus and smile through my tears, because my baby is growing up. But for as long as it lasts, I will treasure each morning that he jumps into my bed to tell me about the dream he had the night before. We’ll still have time to take walks on fall afternoons and place acorns and pine cones and pretty colored leaves in a brown paper bag for his “collection.” And I’ll still tuck him into bed at night and when he asks, “Will you check on me tonight?”, I will say, “Of course” . . . for as long as you want me to, because I love you to infinity and beyond.
http://www.theresadodaro.com Author of The Tin Box Trilogy