I’ve taken most of the boys’ big milestones mostly in stride. I get melancholy, and a little sad, when they move past one phase of life and onward to the next. I get a little wistful when I pack away a pair of pants they’ve outgrown or a board book that nobody will be reading again.
But for the most part, I get a tremendous amount of joy seeing them grow up, seeing them start to figure out how who they are, and how they’re going to make their mark on the world. It’s exciting to see their personalities develop and grow, and it’s even more exciting to share new things with them at every stage.
And I didn’t really think Gabe’s upcoming birthday would be any different. Sure, he’s at the biggie – double digits! – but even though I knew it was a big deal, I didn’t anticipate that it would hit me in quite the way it is proving to.
It doesn’t help, of course, that on top of the fact that he’s turning TEN in just a few weeks, he also recently embarked on his orthodontic treatment (beginning with the barbaric appliance known as a palate expander), and also started taking his ADHD medication – oh, and as if that weren’t enough, this is also the time at which we needed to officially submit notice that he won’t be attending his beloved elementary school for 5th grade, and will instead be moving on to the local middle school.
That’s an awful lot for anyone to take in all at once, right? He happens to be handling it all with the greatest of ease – me, not so much.
He hasn’t been all rainbows and sunshines – don’t get me wrong. There have been some complaints about the palate expander (for which I cannot blame him one bit – I mean, look at the thing – I’d complain if I had to wear that!), and some concerns voiced about middle school, and some sadness over leaving his current school.
But generally, he’s rolling with the punches and maintaining a surprisingly positive, even-keeled attitude about everything. The resilience of youth, I guess?
I, on the other hand, am an emotional mess. I had tears in my eyes as I filled out the withdrawal form for his current school, and after I did the required turns on his palate expander last night, I had to look away so he couldn’t see my eyes tearing up. I feel like I’m the one going through all this upheaval, instead of it all being on his shoulders.
I think if it was just one, or even two, of these things, I’d be ok. But this confluence of transitions and new experiences is throwing me for a loop – partly because it’s hard to see your child having to go through things that you know are uncomfortable, or stressful, or in any way make their life unpleasant for any period of time.
But mostly because it’s all like a big neon sign in my face, reminding me of how damn fast he’s growing up, and how many more of these types of challenges are headed his way, and how each year that goes by, the challenges are just going to get more challenging.
I can remember when Gabe was in kindergarten, and we talked about how we’d have to make this middle school decision ‘someday,’ and someday seemed so impossibly far away.
Time marches on. We’re on the verge of double digits, and things will continue to get more and more complicated.
But these little boys will continue to grow and thrive and learn and challenge us and surprise us. And even though that process is a little tough to take sometimes, in the end, that’s what it’s all about, and it’s pretty amazing to be a part of.