18 and Life to Go

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

This is my only son.

My firstborn.

Today he turns 18 years old, but I chose this old photo of him because it shows him rowing away from me (us).

In so many ways, there’s nothing more anxiety-provoking than launching your first child into the world. But when he leaves us in 3 months, I don’t actually expect him to come back, except for (maybe) in the summers in between college years. I expect he will probably start and finish college in a timely manner, find his way in the world, find a nice girl, get married eventually, have a family of his own.

For any mother, having her very first child turn 18, register for college classes and Selective Service, make adult-sized decisions and mistakes: terrifying. Because that first launch is the final test as to whether his mom and dad did a good (or not-so-good) job of parenting him. Did we teach him enough about God? About kindness, compassion, community concerns, how to treat women, how to succeed without putting money first? Did we teach him how to be a good man?

I can’t even imagine what it is like for him; to look forward to college, to realize that he will finally be totally independent from us, will make every decision himself, every morning that he wakes up. Maybe he is like me, launching into adult life without a plan or a well-developed format. Or maybe he is like his dad, who was already planning his life before he even started it, who had signed up for the military before he even WAS 18. Yeah. I think he IS like his dad. Who although not perfect, is a good man, is a goal-oriented person, who sees the pros and cons analytically; not me, who jumped into everything with both feet without even looking.

That makes me feel a little bit better.

Happy 18th Birthday, Son. May you make this world better than it was before you entered it. We love you.

 

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