Eyes wide open 

Life’s little cruel joke…insomnia when you are exhausted!  Like the days weren’t long enough…oh no…let’s relive every moment in a never ending loop the second you Close your eyes. Let’s grab the phone every 1/2 hour only to say to yourself if I go to sleep right now I can still get 6 hours sleep. Then 4, then 3 and then the thoughts shift to I am going to be so tired tomorrow. At least this thought gives you something new to worry and be anxious over. 

Even my dog is annoyed I am up–again. I swear she just moaned, rolled over and put her paw over her eyes. Then she began snoring. Even the dog can sleep! 

So what does one do when they are   wide awake at unholy hours? They google insomnia. And Bam! Here’s what I see

Well hell…about 99.9% of those words nail my current state. 

So I google stress:

Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can shut down your immune system, upset your digestive and reproductive systems, raise blood pressure, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, speed up the aging process and leave you vulnerable to many mental and physical health problems. 

Shouldn’t have done that! Now I can stress about the effects stress is having on me. Good times. You do that a lot when you are wide awake at 2am or 3am or 4am. You fret and obsess over absurd things. You over analyze and re-think all the things that have you awake in the first place. Yeah, logic and insomnia don’t go hand in hand. 

It’s Friday night and I could have/should have taken something to help me sleep. But I’ve got to work tomorrow and the amount of work on my to-do list (which I’ve been obsessing over all night) is pretty impressive. So I need to go on relatively early. Which I couldn’t do if I had a sleep aide hangover. Or that’s how my thoughts ran. Not that the lack of sleep hangover will be any better. Oh goodie…let’s worry about that awhile. 

Ever notice that when people notice your stress the first thing they say is usually something like “you should do something about that…life is to short to _______ (fill in the blank). Uh. Duh. That’s what I want to say anyway. 

Life is too short to miss swim meets and basketball games; to miss long weekends—hell to miss weekends in general. No one would argue that. It’s also life and to have one and to take care of the ones you gave it to you have to do what has to be done. Even when you ask yourself what would happen if I didn’t this once? But  not song what has to be done isn’t really an option so it’s the one thing you let go of in the wee hours. 

I worked 55 hours this week when I left today. I could easily work 20 hours this weekend. I hope I won’t-but I could. It was 1:30 today before I got out of my chair…from 8 am that morning. No wonder I am growing increasingly fluffy. Only my fingers move during the day. So much so that now most of the letters are worn off my keyboard and the e started sticking today. 

I tell myself it’s temporary. But that’s what I said last time I did this. Work is like weight. Once you have/do extra it’s real hard to get rid of it. I tell myself that people are counting on me and they deserve all the effort I can provide. But I am not the only one people are counting on…

I am so grateful to have a job. Not everyone does. I am. I have a home, a car, healthcare; I can buy food, pay my light bill and clothe my little ones. Without a job I couldn’t do these things. I am grateful. And this is not to say I am not. 

I just have to get some pent up frustrations out so that I can get to sleep to do the job I am grateful to have. 

Of course now I’ll just feel guilty about whining. I can’t win for losing. 

It’s weeks like this that remind me how hard and awful it is to be a single parent. Being at work late means I am not with them and with them is the only place I want to be. There is no sub. I don’t have anyone to tag in. If I am not home they have no one else to come home to.  I have no one else to come home to. Life is meant to be lived in pairs. It’s weeks like this that remind me of that. And it’s weeks like these that not being part of a pair is hard. A shoulder to cry on, a shoulder to lean on, shoulders to help carry the load. I don’t have an extra set of shoulders around here. I miss that. 

Last time I did this it cost me my family. Deep down I know it’s not the hours I worked that caused “the fall”…or maybe I don’t know that. It varies. I do know, with certainty, that had I been home I would have known earlier someting was wrong. If I’d been paying more attention maybe it wouldn’t have gotten to bad. Maybe I could have done something before there was no option left. Maybe. I think about that sometimes late at night after I’ve missed dinner or bedtimes or school events. But, like most things I think about at 3am, it’s a waste of energy. 

Google again to the rescue. This is how I feel right now-brittle. I am hard but right now I feel like I could shatter easily. Sometimes I wonder, again at 3a, what will be the one thing-the last thing-that finally breaks me? 

I stay on the brink of tears. At 10a I can keep them at bay (sometimes) but I can’t at 2:46am. 

My friends gather for lunch. I don’t leave my desk for lunch anymore. So I am missing conversations, birthdays, celebrations and worst of all I am not there for them when they might need me. I need them desperately but to have friends you have to be a friend and I am not a very good one these days. So at 4:15 I worry that I am not there enough anymore for them to even know when I am gone. 

I am holding things together (barely) at work but everywhere else is falling apart. I am not gifted in things domestic on a good day. On these long days I am a downright disaster. Laundry, general cleaning…these things don’t care what sort of hours you are putting in…they still need to be done. But I am not doing them. I worry about not doing them but I don’t do them. Too bad I am not a productive insomniac. That would solve all kinds of issues. 

In the dark of night what are not shines the brightest. You don’t lie awake and congratulate yourself for being a hard worker. Oh no. You don’t lie awake, starring at the fan and make a mental list of all the things you are doing right. Nope. You lie awake and think of all the ways you are inadequate or failing. At night all you can think about are the things you aren’t. The phrase I am enough doesn’t exist at 2:18 am. 

Despite my best efforts and sincerest of vows I didn’t get to leave the office in time to make the girls basketball game. For the second time this week I ran in, paid my entrance fee by check and sat down just barely in time to see the 1/2 time dance. Yet as we were leaving the gym my daughter said, as she does everytime, “Thank you for coming, mama.” And I wanted to cry. So sweet and appreciative even though I was late. 

I am scared to work like I do but I am more afraid of not working like I do. 

I’ll never be the smartest. I am not the fastest or the most knowledgeable. I know this. I can’t control that so I try and be the hardest worker. That’s my strength. I’ll get it done. It might not be the most technologically advanced method, someone smarter might have known a different way of doing it–I admit to that—but I’ll get it done. Even if the only thing I bring to the table is determination.  

Lately I’ve asked myself if I could do/be anything what would I want to do/be. I don’t know. At 3:14 I worry about that–what kind of person doesn’t have a goal or a dream? A tired one, I guess. Dreaming and goals take effort. They take energy and I don’t have any extra of either right now. I’d like to have an answer to this one day. 

People around me have hobbies and interest. They DO things. I don’t. That makes me sad. Work and life should balance. Mine don’t. That is my fault-I know. But if I ever don’t work as much, once swim meets and softball games are over what will I do? What will I offer? Just another question to keep me up. 

It’s not just work keeping me up. It’s that everything seems to be in such flux. It’s like my foundation is built on quicksand. I’d like to have firm footing somewhere. But I can’t seem to get a foothold anywhere. I don’t have a personal life. I don’t know what my professional life will look like 2 days, 2 weeks or 2 months from now.  My role of mom seems to be shifting as the older 2 get older and the youngest moves out of her little girl stage and into her big girl stage. I am not a wife even though that’s really all I ever wanted to be. I am not a writer-I am just a person who writes. I don’t have a cause I am passionate about. Just one thing to grab onto would help, I think. 

I’ve written it all out tonight hoping it would help. I’ve raided the cabinet and splurged on a spoonful of cookie butter. I’ve prayed a little and I’ve cried a little. I’ve allowed myself a brief pity party. I’ve allowed myself to be mad a little. I’ve wondered if it matters a little. I’ve worried a lot. I’ve checked the clock again and again. I’ve gotten some water and made a trip to the bathroom. I’ve tried to read. I’ve fluffed my pillows and re-adjusted my sheets. I’ve tried my side, my back and my tummy. I’ve checked Facebook, deleted my old emails and looked at Pinterest. I’ve thought of all the things I am grateful for. I’ve reprimanded myself for whining. I’ve counted sheep and repositoned the dog. And yet, here I am, eyes wide open even when all they want to do is close. 

The wifi went out

It’s been a long, stressful week-and it’s not over. Monday I worked until 9:30. Tuesday-I can’t even talk about Tuesday yet. That’s another blog for another day. Asmidst chaos and the acknowledgment that nothing would ever be the same I worked until 10:30. Wednesday I managed-barely-to make the game. Thursday I managed-barely-to make the after school pick up dealine. Friday brings another deadline. The weekend seems to be the only time I’ll get to do my actual job. I say all that to say I am stressed out, worn out and heavy hearted. 

And then the wifi went out.

I hadn’t spent any quality time with baby girl this week. In fact, is barely seen her. Two nights in a row she was tucked in by her sister-not me. So tonight she was allowed to snuggle in with me tonight. Truth be told I needed her there as much as she wanted to be there.  As usual she’s got Her arm across my chest and her leg flung across mine. It’s a reminder that some things don’t change…even when a lot of things do. 

Big girl had retreated to her room for her hour long shower and booty loads of homework.  The same girl that, not long ago,went to her spring formal dance with cheeto powder all over her teeth no spends hours showering and washing; grooming and primping. Her room time grows exponentially the older she gets. Over the weekend I saw her for a grand total of 2 hours. So far this week I’d seen her for a grand total of less than an hour.  I miss her. 

Big boy is working. I wait up on him despite my heavy eyes and weary body. He’s putting in the so the least I can do is be awake and waiting when he stumbles in the door. The tv and my phone  are  the best of friends on these long nights. 

So I’d assumed my normal position…tv on, phone in hand. Covers up to my chin and Netflix streaming. And then everything stopped. Screen went dark. Phone flashed “no network connection.” I didn’t move. I didn’t know what to do. 

So, I plugged and unplugged the router. Nothing. I texted big girl…hey I couldn’t yell I had a baby in my bed…but she was already on her way down. Mid research paper her screen went dark as well.  She too unplugged and replugged with the same results. 

And…low and behold…a miracle occurred. She crawled in with me. (Okay-maybe the noise and the thud on the deck had a little something to do with that.) no wifi and a noise are my heros. 

We started a scrabble game and an actual conversation. Really. My 14 year old and I talked. Real talk. Meaningful talk while we passed the phone back and forth in a rousing game of scrabble. 

Soon she grabbed marshmallow cream and cookie butter and 2 spoons. Like girlfriends at a slumber party we are ate and giggled and played a game. 

Giggles turned into serious conversation. I explained the stresses at work. She admitted to being scared about the changes. Calmly we talked about possibilities and how important it was to have a little faith right now.  There, snuggled against my shoulder, my mini-me and I talked. It was comfortable and comforting. For her too I believe. 

Tonight I learned about of her fears about high school. We talked about the choices she was going to have to make soon. We discussed the merits of softball, the attraction to cheerleading and her fears that she wasn’t good enough to be on the swim team. Academic choices and fear of upperclassmen were talked about as well. 

And miracles never cease–she listened to me and I listened to her. Maybe because I wasn’t yelling or hurried. I wasn’t distracted or burdened. Regardless of the why it was perfect…my girls and I. Together. Snuggled up and content. 

All because the wifi went out. 

The wifi will be back on tomorrow. I’ll wake up, already tired, to a grumpy little one and a sleepy young man. We will all want one more hour but we won’t get one.Big girl will be back on diva mode. There will be more than one yelling of “we are late!”.  Everntually they will all get to school. And eventually I will get to work. Uncertainty and tension will be waiting on me. They will stay with me until I dash out the door scurrying to make the basketball game. I’ll be late so little girl will be one of the last ones which means she will be PISSED. Hungry. Cranky and pissed. It won’t be an easy pedal-to-the-metal drive to the middle school. 

We will make it there  barely in time for halftime. But we will be there. Big girl will be understanding-which will make me feel worse. I’ll see her cheer. I’ll applaud her roundoff and marvel at her split.  

Afterwards I will pack them up to go be taken care of by their grandparents so I can do what has to be done. I’ll miss a swim meet and I’ll miss my babies. But, for now, it is what has to be done. 

Tomorrow will be back to reality. But tonight, oh tonight, the wifi went out. 

Am I lost?

I think I thought life would be all mapped out. I think I thought that you did the right thing, you follow the “rules” and viola! The path of your life magically appeared before you and your job was to stay on the path. 

I think I thought life was like the yellow brick road and your job, to reach the emerald city, was to stay in the path. On the path you would overcome obstacles, you would have triumphs but all those things would happen on the path. 

But real life isn’t oz and I am not Dorothy. And…is the emerald city really where I am heading? 

Was my concept Naive? Probably 

Was my concept Stupid? Definitely 

Was my concept wrong? Absolutely 

There is no map. There is no clear path. I don’t even know if there is a single destination. There are just a series of choices that bring you to a place other than the place where you were. Some choices are yours. Some aren’t. Some you know are happening. Some you don’t. Sometimes you look around at where you are and ask yourself how the hell did I get here? Usually followed by the question …and how to I get out of here?

But what if you don’t know where to go? 

I’ve learned there is no Garmin, no google map, no gps to guide you to your next destination in life. Some people may have guides helping them from one choice to another but most don’t. Some people have champions-people that clear the way so the path is uninhibited and clear. Most do not. 

Sometimes choices are clear…you have to make one. You have to move because the place you are doesn’t exist anymore. Those are easy. You move forward. Period. You put one foot in front of the other and you make one choice at a time until you find yourself on a place where you can be-a place where you can be and be still for a bit. Those paths, those crossroads are easier to navigate. 

Sometimes it’s not clear. Sometimes the place you are is still there but you don’t know if it’s the place you are supposed to be. Sometimes you feel like you are supposed to make a choice but the choice isn’t clear. It isn’t emergent. Sometimes not making a choice is the choice that sets you in a different path to a new place. 

How do you know? 

I envy the people who let faith be their guide. Those that don’t question each choice but who simply know where they are meant to be. Those that can give up all doubt and simply trust that they know when and where to move and who trust that the choice they are to make will be clear to them. Those are the people who have peace. 

I have faith but I don’t have that level of faith. I want to. I’ve learned to simply pray “please let me know and understand the path you have meant for me so that I can find peace.” The problem is that I haven’t learned to be still and know. I haven’t learned to let go and let God as the saying goes. I tend to still overthink, over analyze and over fret about each choice, each step and each decision. I stay and fight but worry I shouldn’t. I give in and give up but then worry that makes me weak. I stay but wonder if I should go. I go but then wonder and worry that I was supposed to stay. I push and worry I should have pulled. I push when a pull might have been the better option. I go “big”and then wonder if life would be better if I took a smaller steps. I tiptoe but am anxious wondering if I should have run. Sometimes I worry I am wandering in circles instead of walking the path I was meant to be on. 

Is it possible to be lost and not know it? 

Is it possible to feel lost but be exactly where you are meant to be?

Boy gets a truck 

“Mama…I am gonna send you some pictures of the truck. In case you want to blog about it or something,” says my 17 year old little man. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I hadn’t blogged in a long time. 

When your boy hints for you to blog…you blog. 

I am sure he was expecting a blog about how awesome the truck is now that it’s been tricked out a bit. He got “rims” from Santa; A tool box and new headlights from his grandparents. He is over. The. Moon. 

That’s not what I am going to blog about. 

Keith Urban has a song called,”a boy gets a truck,” that makes me tear up everytime I hear it.

The song is about a boy getting a truck. Every line of the chorus builds into the next until it’s the sons-son asking for the keys. Its everyone moms story once her boy gets a truck. 

My parents made me an incredibly generous offer for the truck with the stipulation that I not hand it over to my fella. It was his to drive but to “own” it he has to pay for it. It’s a lesson in responsibility. It’s a lesson that you earn what you want and you work to get it. 

To pay for the truck and the part of the insurance to drive the truck my boy gets a job. I see him less. He works 2-4 nights a week while holding down a pretty tough academic schedule and swimming 5 days a week. I see a level of responsibility in him that I haven’t seen before. 

And so it begins. He has a truck. He no longer needs me to drive him to swim meets or practices. While part of me is doing a jig of joy another part of me is sad. Those car trips to swim meets and grandparents and all the trips in between were quality time. Lock a boy in a car and let the conversations start. I learned more about him in the car then anywhere else. He was a captured audience. But he doesn’t need me for that anymore. He’s got a truck. 

He has a truck so now he’s scooter pootin’ around to football games and movies and corn mazes. He’s building a little life for himself that has nothing to do with me. It’s how it should be but that doesn’t make it easier. 

He has a truck so he shuttles his teen sister and his baby sister to places they need to go. They have their own stories and memories made during these truck rides…memories I don’t share. They sing songs I don’t know. Laugh at jokes I didn’t hear. They come spilling in the door laughing about dabbing and dancing in the truck. The teens share glances that I am sure belay secrets told in the truck. Secrets I don’t know. 

He has a truck. Soon he’ll have a girl. Once that happens it’s a quick ride to the bigger things in life. And it started with a truck. 

“Boy gets a truck,” the tune plays in my head even as I type this. It’s more then a truck for him. He doesn’t see the hundreds of thousands of miles already logged on the odometer.  He doesn’t realize that the truck is a year older than he is. He doesn’t see the songs and bumps. He looks at it and sees freedom and possibilities. He is so proud driving down the road convinced that other drivers of trucks are admiring his “ride”. He is proud and excited and has something to work for. When he looks at the truck he  sees something that’s his that he’s earned. He also feels the weight of debt and has acknowledged that working for money that already belongs to someone else is hard. I hope that’s a lesson that says with him for the rest of his life. 

Sidebar: he has the money to pay me for the truck in savings. It’s all if his savings so I told him to keep it in there for ‘safety’ and the the could pay me when he had a little more saved. He also pays 1/3 of his own insurance—which ain’t cheap for a 17 year old boy! 

My boy got a truck. Soon that truck will be packed up to take him to college. With luck it will one day move him into his first apartment. It will chauffeur a girl one day. It will be parked in the driveway of his first house. And one day his son will get a truck. And it will all happen in the blink of an eye. 

My boy got a truck and with it came pride and a sense of ownership he hadn’t felt before. He sometimes bemoans that he has to work so hard for what he gets while his friends get handed cars without debt  and easier roads. I don’t apologize for that. I tell him welcome to life. And though he sometimes wishes for an easier road I really believe that he understands the values of the lessons he is learning now. 

He dons flannels and jeans and boots now where before he wouldn’t. He’s more comfortable and confident in his own skin. He seems to have a better sense of who he is and who he wants to be…all because of a truck. 

My boy has a truck. See for yourself how proud he is….

And here are the pictures he sent showcasing his new headlights, new tool box and rims. “in case I wanted to blog about it or something.” 

Boy gets a truck

You’ve reached your destination…

The wrong turn that broke me…

I’ve missed 2 basketball games. My daughter was understanding the first time. The second her feelings weee hurt and, even though she didn’t mean it to, it showed. “I nailed my roundoff into a split. Everyone said it was great. You missed it.” I didn’t think I could feel worse than I already did. I was wrong. 

Today I was determined to not miss a single cheer. I went through my day at warp speed to get as much done as possible so i could leave on time. I apologized about deadlines I was going to miss because there was no way humanly possible to get it all done and still make the game. Is disappointed her twice. I let her think she wasn’t my priorty-TWICE- and I wouldn’t do it again. For once work would have to wait. 

I left semi in time. I raced across town to get my youngest daughter then raced across 2 counties to the spot of the away game. Traffic was what one would expect for 5p on Friday. I gripped the steering while and silently begged cars to move so I could be there as the game started.  When the time passed that would signal they start of the game and I was still in the car I changed my silent pleas to “let me get there before she does her 1/2 time routine!”

Navigation had be turning this way then that way until I had no idea where I was. I can’t describe My relief when the voice said,”destination will be on your right”. Nor can I describe my devastation when I made the right turn into an empty parking lot.

I called my girl. Message. 

I cursed myself. 

I cursed the universe. 

I assured my young one that mommy would figure this out. 

I used my phone to look up the calendar on the schools website. Resourceful, right?  I squinted ans attempted to read the small script since my glasses were on my desk where I’d frantically tossed them in an attempt to escape. If I squinted just right I could make out the entry. Saw the mistake. The calendar pointed to another school in another county. I punched to address into the phone and took off like a rocket. I’d messed up but I could stopl fix it. 

I drove like a bat out of hell. I wouldn’t make the start of the game but my god I would make some of it. Actions speak louder than words. She would see me there and know I was proud of her. She would see me and know I loved her. She would see me and know that SHE was my priority!!!

Does this look like a school?

“You have arrived at your destination,” chirped my phone. Do you see a school??? Yeah, me either. 

I called my girl. Message. 
I cursed myself. 
I cursed the universe. 
I assured my young one that mommy would figure this out. 

I re-punched in the address and squealed the tires as I floored it in an attempt to get to my girl. 

Finally-7 minutes later we arrive. I slid sideways to then car like the Dixie Lee. The car was still rocking to a stop when I grabbed my little one and ran to the door. Try and give me a ticket. We burst into the gym, ignored the lady taking up entrance money and flew to the stands. I glanced at the clock. It wasn’t 1/2 time. I had done it!!!!!! I literally took my first deep breath of the day. I searched the gym for my girl so she would know I had made it. 

Recognize anyone?

See MBMS on the jersey? Yeah. Me neither. I was at the wrong school. When you don’t have on glasses a 7 looks like a 9. This was the team they played Wednesday, 12/7 not Friday, 12/9. I blink back tears, grab my bewildered daughters hands and turn to leave the gym. A mom made the mistake of making eye contact. “I’ve been to 2 schools in 2 counties and I still don’t know where my daughter is playing?!?” She looked at me like I’d lost my mind. 

I made it to the sidewalk before bursting into tears. 

I called my girl. Message. 

I cursed myself. 
I cursed the universe. 
I assured my young one that mommy would figure this out. 
I sobbed. 

I’d left work undone so I’d failed there. I had no idea where my daughter was. Fail. My son had to give up a hunting trip because his boss had frantically and desperately called him after being short staffed. Though that wasn’t my fail I felt the weight of it. It was my fault he had to work while in high school and I feel guilty because of it. Fail. My daughter was seeing me cry. Fail. And I still didn’t know where my daughter was. Mega fail. 

I didn’t know where else to go. After a few minutes I punched in my home address and let the British  navigational voice guide me home. 

My baby girl feel asleep so I called my friend who listened while I cried and ranted and cursed the universe. My own Personal nervous breakdown hotline. 

When I got home my daughter returned my text. “At Russell-they made a new school so we aren’t at the old one.” 

She’s riding the team bus home. I missed a third game. No where in my motherhood code is this alright. No. Where. Letting my children down is not something I would ever intentionally do. But I have. And I don’t know how to fix it.  Luckily I have amazing kids. My son was disappointed at having to miss a trip but he he took it knew stride. “I can’t leave them stranded. They need me. I have to go.” My girl won’t let me know how sad she is that I haven’t seen their new cheer or her round off into a split. I know she’s disappointed and she knows I know but she won’t show me. 

Work sees me a “high strung”and edgy. My kids see me stressed and grumpy. My team sees me not getting all my items done in time. My laundry runneth over…my house is a mess…there’s shopping to do and things to wrap and holiday joy to find. There are memories that need making and merriment that is supposed to be had. There are cheerleaders to feed and secret Santa prestents to buy. And all that falls on me. Me. But I am running on fumes. Literal fumes. After weeks of mega doses of this and shots of that I was supposed to be feeling perkier and energized and more like ME.

 But I am not. And I gotta find the get up and go to get up and go one more time. Now is not the time to be be slacking off. Now,more than ever, I’ve got to prove what I offer and show what I am made of. My bootstraps are getting a little thin but here’s to hoping they’ve got a little more pull in them. 

Mama tried

Handmade Halloween. I did it despite my current state. It was cuter in my mind. 

Made me nostalgic for the years when my oomph matched my ideas and my little one actually looked like I’d pictured her in my mind…

Obviously in years past I’ve had a little more energy towards my handmade Halloween projects. 

Someday I hope she’ll remember that I tried. I hope she’ll forget that the year she was 6 I sat around more then before, that I was short(er) tempered and that everything I did seemed at 1/2 speed and 1/2 way. Instead I hope she’ll remember that I laughed when I talked about her as an octopus or that seeing pictures of her as a flower “plot” always makes me smile. I hope she will remember that I made bows for her sister and swim presents for her brother and that for her I made costumes. I hope that’s what she will tell her little ones one day. 

Mama tried baby-mama tried.

Little fella no more 

My little fella turned 17 today. 

At lunch, before we ate, he made a speech,”thanks for today. I know coming to a swim meet wasn’t how you wanted to spend your day, but I am happy I got to spend the day with my girls.” 

My fella. 

I still see him as the little fella with the hat turned backwards with a mischievous glint in his gray eyes and a half smile full of impish humor. To me, he’s the same little guy that used to climb in my lap or snuggle beside me in bed. 

Today-driving from Atlanta he leaned over and laid his head on my shoulder and he was suddenly 6 again. 

But he’s 17. He works, gets himself up for 5:30a swim practice and holds down a full advanced class school schedule. He no longer wants matchbox cars-instead he wants to ‘toughen’ up the truck he’s allowed to drive. We don’t talk Legos anymore. Now it’s talk of rims and wheels and chrome what-cha-ma-call-it’s. He carries more burdens now-looking after his sisters and me. Responibilites of debt and the weight of want. He’s has his first love and had his heart broken. He’s heard tough feedback and been let down a time or two. He’s understanding that the life you want doesn’t come easy or fairly. He’s 17.

But I still see my little fella–so sweet and funny. So full of swagger and oomph. He will always be that to me. 

“I can get into rated r movies without an adult now,” he proclaimed riding down the road. This just moments after he’d lais his bushy head in my shoulder. I almost admonished him and said ‘not without my permission’ but I didn’t. Because he really doesn’t need my permission for that now. 

Today in the mail there were flyers from colleges. This time next year we will be talking financial aid and school visits. This time next year he will be getting ready to leave this nest I’ve created for him. Part of me is proud but a bigger part of me is heartbroken. I just can’t imagine not getting a hug from my fella every night. I can’t fathom not seeing him, his hat still backwards, smiling at me or thank ing me for coming to his swim meets. 

He’s 17. He’s making a life of his own. He’s facing difficulties and having to make decisions on how to get through them. All on his own. 

I am not finished teaching this little fella of mine, but my role is different now. I can offer advice, make roles and set boundaries-and I do-but more and more he’s having to face things on his own. 

I know this is how it’s supposed to be. My job is to teach him and to prepare him to go off on his own. I didn’t know it would be so hard. I didn’t realize that every step he took on his own would be away from me. 

My fella is so full of life on the outside but inside he’s a little sad and a little scared. He’s not a big fella. He talks too much and has to fight hard to focus. He has big dreams but he’s having to achieve them the hard way-working twice as hard as some of his friends-to even get close to what he wants. And what he wants often eludes him. While I know this will build his character I also feel bad-wishing his lot in life were a little easier-that things were a little more attainable or that just once he felt like he could breathe and let the world come to him. But it’s not that way for my little guy. 

He loves us. He adores his baby sister and she him. He’s proud of his 3 year-3 day younger sister. He’s patient with me. He does his best to be the little man of the house. He calls us ‘his girls’ and smiles that smile of his when I tell him how much I love him. 

17. It’s not yet a man but it’s so far from a boy. He’s caught in the in-between. It’s one of those birthdays you tolerate to get to the next milestone-18 when the world considers you as adult or 21 when its all legal and binding. For him-it’s a waiting year. For me it’s so much more—17. 

I am so proud of this little fella of mine. He’s not perfect. But he’s great. I am lucky enough to call him mine. I am his biggest fan-his biggest champion and his first love. 

He’s growing out his hair-and I let him-even though it’s wooly and wild and unkept. I know he’s trying to figure out who he is and who he will become. I see glimpses of a man I will be very proud of. I also still see tiny glimpses of that little fella who stole my heart 17 years ago today. We named him a big name that day  -Colton Henry and over the years I’ve watched him grow into the name. 

He’s 17 years old today but it feels like just a moment has passed.