Monday, November 10, 2008

Bittersweet Sixteen

My oldest child is about to turn 16. This has caused me some anxiety. Not just because it makes me feel old to realize that I have a near-adult aged child, but also because I dread the day he wants to leave.

Here's the thing: No one ever told me when I gave birth to that red screaming bundle (who, by the way, didn't really even want to be born in the first place and caused me screaming agony as the doctor literally ripped him from my body), that time would suddenly shift into overdrive and as the years flew by in a blur I would almost instantaneously find myself 16 years later wondering where my baby went.

We have a very close family, and aside from being a really rotten infant, this son of mine has been a wonderful child and has turned into the kind of adolescent everyone dreams of having: well behaved, intelligent, considerate, responsible. Not only is he my son, but he's my friend and I enjoy spending time with him every day.

I am having difficulty coming to terms with the fact that I'm going to have to let him leave and have a life of his own in a couple of years. How does anyone raise a child who is so much a part of your own identity and then figure out how to live without them in your life every day? It's a concept I'm currently unable to wrap my mind (and heart) around.

Although I have always had a rocky relationship with my mother, I'm beginning to have an inkling of sympathy for her (whereas in the past she just plain annoyed me) every time she says, at age 63, that she is still suffering from "empty nest syndrome."

My only scrap of solace is that this son is somewhat of a homebody. He likes to be at home with us. So I'm hoping that he'll want to spend at least his first year of college at home, giving us all the chance to wean slowly into his adulthood. Is it greedy of me to hope for this? I certainly don't want him living at home when he's 30 or 40. That would be pathetic. But 18 is only 2 years away, and I'm just not ready to let him go.


Angie Ledbetter said...

Feel ya. I've got 16, 18 & 19-year-olds, but so far, the eldest is home with us while she's going to college. While I don't get to see her as often as I'd like, it's a good "weaning" step, as you say.

Anonymous said...

Ohhhh, how I do understand. My daughter married at age 19 and left me. She was my first born and my best friend. I do have a son who is about to turn 16 in a few short months. I love my family with all that I am. But I took this attitude...they will always be a phone call away. Technology is great with Internet and webcams, if one is so lucky to have that. In a few short years, it will be my husband and myself. Scary??? No. I'm excited about it even though I too feel I will suffer empty nest syndrome. We get to discover what it is to be a "couple" again. Remember, they never truly leave home, whether in the same city, state, or outside the state. They will always come back to their mom and dad. My daughter now has a child of her own and I see her more than when she actually lived under my roof.

Think of his "Bittersweet Sixteen" as your "Sweet Sixteen". Sounds like to me, you have done a great job and be proud that he will soon be able to go out into this big scary world and he will be fine all because of the life you gave him while he was under your wing. Celebrate and rejoice for this milestone in his life that he not only has reached, but you have as a parent.

Suldog said...

I have no kids, so no advice. All I can do is wish you God's blessing!

alana said...

Thank goodness my son is only turning three! I am still at the point where I can’t wait for the monster that sometimes pretends to be my child turns 18 lol.

(I have a feeling I am going to be totally depressed when he leaves me though.)

Joanne said...

It's nice that you have a close relationship. You'll be busy soon with college tours, applications, etc. and he'll still need your advice & influence through it all!