I started looking through old photos. I was looking for the one that felt like the right one to post online today.
There are a lot of things I will always remember about raising my boys. There are feelings I will never forget having. Good and bad ones.
Looking through the old pictures, I was hit with an unexpected wave of emotion. It’s been such a long time since I got misty about Jay and his maturation.
He’s ten years old today. I can scarcely believe it.
According to Google, typical 10 year olds, have pretty well developed gross and fine motor skills. They are also getting to the age where peer pressure may become an issue. They tend to prefer friends of the same gender and they are getting better at handling their emotions.
By these accounts, I’d say Jay is a typically developing 10 year old. There are no concerns about his motor skills. He has oodles of self-esteem and a generally good sense of himself. He notices and is aware of what other people are wearing and what games they are playing and he is interested in joining in and being part of the crew – but he is not afraid to do his own thing. He’s not a “follower”. He’s empathetic. When he and his brother have been fighting, he tells the story in such a way that makes him look like the innocent one – *spoiler alert* – He’s not always the innocent one. He’s mostly friends with other boys. He likes video games. He hates homework and chores, but he does them.
The old pictures though – They tell a different story. They show a little boy who focused on things no-one else cared to notice. A single blade of grass at the park. A chip in the wall at the museum. A butterfly outside the Church at my sisters wedding. A broken piece of glass in the sand.
They show a little boy who experienced the world in a totally different way from other children. In a bouncy house, he is sitting in a corner watching his beloved Thomas train bounce up and down as other kids jump. In Jamaica, he is mesmerized by the ants on the sidewalk. At the aquarium, he holds his hand up to the sun and plays with the shadows it makes. At the camp site, while the other boys are racing, he is drawing circles in the dirt with a stick. At the bowling alley, he is on the floor, staring at the swirls in the carpet pattern.
The pictures (and Shaunie) reminded me of the time we stopped at Walmart and he decided he wanted a bag of cheese. He didn’t eat cheese then. He doesn’t eat cheese now except on pizza. But he wanted the bag of cheese. He got it and it made him happy.
The pictures reminded me of a boy who would not wear short sleeved shirts or shorts no matter how hot it was and a boy who would rather roam around the produce section of a supermarket than the aisles of a toy store and who would be happier playing with a bag of carrots than a transformer.
He is not that little boy anymore. I kind of miss it. It’s a weird feeling – Me missing that Jay.
It was not an easy time. But it was a time filled with a total and complete love. I was consumed by him. I thought about him and worried about him every minute of every day. Now, of course, I still think about him a lot, but it’s different. He’s growing up and he doesn’t need me in the same way anymore. In a way, I feel almost like I have lost something. But I have my pictures (and this blog) to hold onto – and even as I have lost 1 thing, I have gained something more precious in it’s place. I now have a son who is happy and content infinitely more often than he is sad or frustrated or angry.
He asked to have a birthday party this year. He’s never asked for one before. I had to do it.
This Saturday we will host a sip n’ paint party for 13 kids. 7 of them are kids from his school who I have never met. They’re his friends. He made a list of invitees (5 boys and 2 girls) and we made invitations which he handed out.
He’s very excited about the party and I hope all goes well with it. There will be no singing of the birthday song. But there will be presents and cake and art and goody
When I stop to think about it, I truly do not know how we got here. Everything we did and everything he learned seemed so pain-staking; yet, it has all happened so quickly. But here we are. Here with a 10 year old who is ready to tackle all that being a pre-teen has to throw at him. Here with a 10 year old who has an amazing support team. A 10 year old who makes me laugh constantly and who gets on his brothers nerves and who wears bow ties to school and who tells it like it is and who has secret goodnight handshakes with Shaunie and who now needs to get his passport renewed for the 2nd time.
I am so thankful to him for taking me on this parenting journey. It’s not a journey I could have ever imagined and a few years ago, it’s one I would have said I didn’t want to be on. It has, however, been the single most transformative thing to ever happen to me and I wouldn’t change it, or him, for all the beef patties or Chick-Fil-A in the world.
Happy Birthday Jay. You are loved – Beyond!