Sixteen years ago, at 10:36 a.m. a baby boy was born. Sometime in and around 24 hours later, I got to take that little boy home and keep him. And now? He is old enough to drive.
He is my sitting-in-a-sunbeam-child that I often write about. He is the one who finally slowed me down and showed me how to be a mom. I wanted absolutely nothing more than to stay home and raise my own child, and be there for my (then) 11 year old son in a way that I never was and never could have been for my (then) 20 year old son.
Each of my children was raised by a different mother. Each one of those mothers is housed inside of my body. Oh, how I have evolved over the years.
One word of advice to any 17-year-olds out there. Seventeen is pretty young to start a family. You think you know a lot of things. Most of all, you know what you can do, will do and expect to do. I can only tell you my experience, but most of the things that I knew at age seventeen? I still don't know 36 years later.
Raising a baby when you are still growing up yourself works better for some than for others. I was one of the 'others'. I had a lot of growing up to do before I was capable of simply being the best mom that I could be at that time.
In a life where I look back and say I regret very little? The one thing I wish I could redo is to be a better mother to my firstborn son.
My second son was born in the prime of my life. Twenty seven was the year I started making good decisions for myself and for my family. My feet were firmly planted on the ground and I was starting to see the life-we-should-be-living. That was the direction I was headed shortly after the birth of my second son.
Transition is not always easy. We had some challenges and upheavals but we came out the other end of a trying time in a much better place.
Life is a process of learning as you go. I took what I learned from raising my oldest son and put that knowledge to work, raising my second. Staying home to raise him during his teen years was (what I believe) a life-altering decision.
I would not have had that sitting-in-the-sunbeam-moment (where life came into such clear focus) if it were not for the birth of my youngest son.
By following my heart and truest calling, I was calmer and simply more of who-I-could-be to my family. I invited the world into our home (I opened my daycare) and my youngest and I navigated the waters of life within a safe and controlled setting.
We encountered bullying, tattling, cheating, lying, unfairness, unkindness and the whole gamut of life-in-the-big-scary-world together. We also shared all of the good stuff. The simple appreciation of quiet, after a busy day. Friends were made that walked alongside him throughout most of his elementary school years. My little boy navigated the pressures, demands and perks that came with school life like a pro.
I have always credited his exposure to the real world within our home and in a safe environment, to his successes.
Now, look at him. He is almost grown up. He is two years away from graduating from high school. He knows the direction that he wants for his life to go when he finishes school. He has made new friends easily within this new world of high school. He is happy. He is kind. He is responsible. He is honest. He does not litter (Honestly!! Just last week he handed me a piece of clear plastic the size of my little fingernail, telling me "I don't want to litter"). He is respectful. He may be quiet but he is deep. If you get him talking about something he is interested in, you may not get a word in edgewise.
I have often said that it is as if he has taken a good, long look at the people within his world and taken the best of each person and enveloped that into his character. I am grateful that I can look at my son and see that he has taken what I loved about his father and weaved it into the core of his being.
We are all a tapestry of genes, who we are, who we meet and how we interpret and incorporate it all into our personal perspective and personality. I love that my son has taken the best of the best and woven it into the tapestry of his life. I have also seen this very same trait incorporated into my other children's lives as time has evolved.
Each one of my children is becoming who-they-are-meant-to-be. When I see glimmers of myself (that don't make me flinch) within the core of their being, I know that they have incorporated a piece of me into their 'best self' as well and they simply make me proud to be their mom.
P.S. Small disclaimer: I also see some of the 'worst of me' woven in just as deep and that keeps me humble. Oh, so very humble!