Kristina Beers: Birthdays can be bittersweet

By Kristina Beers

Special to the Pioneer
As I sit and write this, it is the birthday of our oldest son, whom I call my baby. Really, though, that does no good at delineation since I tend to call all of my boys my baby at one point or another. Still, it is a marking point in our life as he leaves the threshold of his teens. I don’t quite know how I feel about that yet.

It is amazing how children grow. Parents are so excited to watch each little person develop in the infant months, morphing from a sleeping bundle to a crooked walker as the first birthday draws near. Then it’s off to the races through 5; followed by the first days of school, classrooms, teachers, etc. It never actually stops, until one day you arrive at the advent of his adult years. I tend to categorize in my own way: Sleep-deprived years, physically exhausted years, and mentally exhausted years.

I am a mom who strongly believes in forming children with a firm foundation in faith, family, and clear boundaries. Mix that belief with a houseful of male children and it seems to me to be all the more important when you are raising men for the world. While we do not have the cattiness and shrill voices of girls, believe you me, boys are every bit as emotional, moody, insecure, and uncertain. Add the fact he is surging testosterone and you have to form these emotions in a masculine fashion — it’s a huge job. One that requires love, discipline, massive amounts of food and lots of spackle along with stain remover.

I say I don’t know how I feel about my son turning 20 because I can’t really seem to peg what my emotions are. This appears to be a significant turning point for me as a mom since he is not a ‘fresh adult,’ as one is when one turns 18. He’s had a taste of adulthood under his belt and has created lifelong memories his parents or brothers are not involved in. I remember my twenties; I met their father when I was 20 and married two months into my 22nd year. This double digit that begins with a two is somehow a siren song of separation.

The timing, as the glorious summer rounds the corner into fall, also is poignant as I lean toward a type of summertime sadness. I adore this season and always recoil against the change to fall. Adding a second son moving to Minnesota for college seminary next weekend and No. 3 beginning his senior year of high school, leaves me swallowing all these changes and having a little case of indigestion.

These kids have their own life to live. I’m not a helicopter parent — the lessons he needs to learn are usually ones I can’t save him from. If I did, they wouldn’t be lessons in the first place and would simply be mom taking care of him. The observation deck is a rough place to be, though, and I occasionally want to race down to fix it. Every now and then I do, but mostly I don’t and that’s saying something.

So, if melancholy descends during these transition times, it’s ok because it seems to me it is all a part of a life well-lived. Like the Olympic torch that travels around the world, our burgeoning torch is getting ready to be passed along. Happy Birthday, my love.

Kristina Beers lives in the Remus area with her husband and five sons. She shares her thoughts on parenting teenagers and young adults on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

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