June 11, 2005

Happy Birthday to J...

My first "baby" is 15 today. And I'm an emotional wreck.

On this day 15 years ago, a 16 year old girl gave birth to a boy:

22 1/2 in

Named after an OT saint, his father & both grandfathers (his middle name is the same as both my dad & R, and my FIL's first name)

I'm only 31, going to be 32 in August, but I'm sure you can do the math. The year that was hardest for R was when J turned 12. I had no problems at all, I was thrilled for him. R was emotional, reflective, regretful, happy, and insistant that we not let J turn 13. He could get a year older, but he'd still be 12.

For some reason, this birthday is hardest for me. I feel like I'm standing on the precipace of adulthood with him.

I think too because it was his 8th grade graduation on Thursday night. He wasn't graduating at Calvary like he should have, but instead at this public school after starting at the end of November. He was asked to leave CBS two days before picture day. So, as far as the world is concerned my son didn't exist in any school yearbook. He's not listed in CBS's yearbook since I took him out before picture day, and he's not even listed as "picture not shown" for this school. He's not listed anywhere at all!

As a parent, that breaks my heart. Especially since when he repeated 7th grade least year at CBS, I totally forgot to send his check in, and I didn't send it in later (not sure why I kept doing that since I have every other year, something subconcious maybe?). He said, "don't buy them mom, my picture was terrible."

But when I saw the class picture at the end of the year it was a GREAT picture. He had grown so much it seemed, and I wanted to document the school picture as I had every year before. So I don't even have a school picture from last year either. Now, I have two years worth of missing school pictures.

I'm both happy and I'm sad. I'm both reflective, and looking towards the future. Time went so fast and I think back on all the things I regret as a mother, and all the thing I'd do differently.

I wouldn't have let him live with his paternal grandma when my husband (with a meth addiction) left us homeless when J was 2 1/2 & a new big brother (J was then abused by R's stepdad)
I wouldn't have let R expose him to that pain, or give him a chance to mistreat him when he was going through withdrawls
I would've gotten help so I could be a good mom then, emotionally available & nurturing
I would've insisted we all get family therapy after R was clean & back home (even 3 y.o's need that)
I woudn't have let R be so hard on him after things changed
I would've gotten J into AWANA & church at a much younger age (he started at 7)
I wouldn't have taken things so seriously when he was younger.
I woudn't have worried about what people thought of me as a young mom, which made me feel like I had something to prove
I would've had his friends over more often, even if the house wasn't as big as theirs or as tidy
I wouldn't have tried as much to make him be the "big boy" of the pack
I would've gotten more help for him, so he didn't struggle so much academically these last few years
I would've had more kid birthday parties
I would've put him into sports or activities instead of waiting for my husband to
I would've asked the pastor if he could've baptized J with R & I 4 years ago (He said he really wanted to be baptized with us, just days before...)
I would've learned earlier that his academics do not define his worth in this world (it's much more then that, and it's not worth having a low self esteem over)
I would've spent more one on one time in prayer with him
I would've bought him that Toy Story comforter to match his sheets. :o)
I would've sent him to Christian summer camp much earlier (he loves it there)
I would've tried harder to stick to my word, or not say things I didn't know I wasn't going to be able to do

I would've, would've, would've.

But a the same time, I have so many precious memories of the things I did right, and the knowledge that he believes I'm a good mom. That I've loved him all along, that I've done so much for him that was never done for me, and that I'm proud of him and always have been. He knows I believe in him, and that there's nothing he could do that would ever make me love him less.

I have four more years of doing things better, and Lord willing, a lifetime of being his mom.