Sitting at my desk and staring at my computer all I can see is my stuffed inbox. My anxiety level is rising by the second as I think of all I have to do.
I take a deep breath and let it out slowly. As I look up, I notice the pin board I keep over my desk. Among the post-it notes scribbled with reminders of things yet to do I notice a picture of me and my first born when he was just a few months old tucked into one of the ribbons.
How is it possible that the little blonde blue eyed boy who I would carry in my Baby Bjorn and later stroll all over Queens, is 14 and getting ready for high school?
I close my eyes and can almost feel myself back in the nursery with the teddy bear wallpaper and the crib with the bedding it took me weeks to pick out. I would rock a sleeping Tom in my arms and marvel at his creamy skin and sweet sleepy smile.
All of a sudden I’m startled out of my trance by a voice that I have not yet become accustomed to.
Who is this man-child with the light mustache and smile full of braces calling my name?
“Mom… dad is going to kill me.”
There is my baby, now 14 and carrying his cell phone. I have a pretty good idea why he is panicking now.
“Oh, no. Not again. Tom it’s only the 15th. How could you exceed your text limit?”
He starts to laugh a bit.
“Well can I help it if I have friends? I need a social life you know. I am a teenager. Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do?” More laughter.
Now I start laughing. “I understand Tom, but that’s it till the fourth of the month.”
“You know Zach has unlimited minutes and he has the iPhone.”
“Well Tom, Mallory has always been a nicer mother than I am. You know that, I know that, Mallory knows that.”
“Ha, Ha, Ha mom. Very funny.” Then he goes off with a combination smile and sulk.
I go back to my computer, relishing that Peter and Lizzy are sleeping and I have a little time to work.
As I start to get engrossed in my latest task, I find myself startled again by Tom.
“Hi Tom, what is it hon? Do you need something?”
My tone is starting to reveal a bit of my impatience. I look at the clock on my computer. Shouldn’t he be in bed soon?
“Uh..no. I forgot to tell you I got a 91 on my math test.”
Oh, that’s great. You must be happy about that. I find myself smiling and happy but still distracted.
“Is there anything else honey? I want to try to get a little work done now that Peter and Lizzy are sleeping.”
I’m starting to get more anxious as I remember that my to-do list is a mile long and no matter how much I do it never seems to get shorter.
“No. When do you think Dad is going to get home?”
“I’m not sure. It’s 9:30 now. Probably soon.”
“Do you think he is going to be really mad that I’m over my texting limiting.”
Now I’m getting really annoyed. Doesn’t this kid realize that I have been up since four in the morning and I still have things that need to get done?
“Tom, he will be fine. But you have to get with the program with the phone. If you can’t manage it, we will have to take it away.”
“I know, I know.”
I go back to my work.
“Mom do you want to watch Friends with me?”
Now I’m mad. I start to have a conversation with him in my head. How am I supposed to do everything? I’m not a saint you know. Why do you have to need me now and not when I was trying to talk to you a half hour ago?
I open my mouth not sure what I’m going to say, but totally knowing what I want to.
Then I see those big blue eyes staring back at me.
Not much different than when he was just a little baby.
When did I start seeing this sweet boy as one more thing on my list? It hits me that he is 14 and very soon, I will be begging him for the smallest piece of his time.
Life is going so fast. I have become obsessed with getting everything done that I’m starting to forget what is really important. I am taking my precious son for granted.
We sit and watch a rerun of Friends that we have seen a million times yet we both start laughing hysterically.
My heart starts to melt. Behind the deeper voice and cries for independence he is the same sweet child who needs me. In some ways even more than he did when he was younger.
“I love you Tom.”
“Love you too.”
All of a sudden my to-do list doesn’t seem so long.
i love this! i totally got it and welled up half way through. i find myself doing the very same and having to stop and remember, because i know all too well how fleeting it all is. so i just ran up to re say goodnight to everyone. thank you.
Kathy Radigan says
Thanks so much Alisa!! I felt horrible realizing what I have been doing, it’s so great to know I’m not alone and that we can change it at any time!! xo
Lisa Gradess Weinstein says
Kathy – I. Can. So. Relate. Nuff said! Beautiful story!!
Kathy Radigan says
Thanks Lisa!!! It really is good to know I’m not alone! xoxo
Even I, a Girlfriend Mom, who also has a 14-year old boy in my life, can feel the thin line between boy and man. It’s strange and new and I’m not sure that I like it. I see the little hints of acne but then he’s regale me with stories about his cat- these chatty Kathy moments are becoming more rare- like a little boy. He spends more and more time with his friends and we see him even less than we already do. My heart aches for his father.
Kathy Radigan says
It’s very strange, they want you when they want you. Parenting is never an easy job but it starts to get very complicated now!!! Nice to know that ever Girlfriend Mom’s experience it too! xo
sitting here crying. that was beautiful, kathy!! what an amazing son you have. as always, you make me laugh, smile and cry. i love that he was so honest with you about the texts…and your conversation with him was so sweet. i love that you watched Friends together. steve and i watch it almost every night together.
you are so blessed. sending love and wishing you a beautiful day. xoxox
Joy Page Manuel says
This struck me the most: ‘When did I start seeing this sweet boy as one more thing on my list?’ They really do grow up so fast and though they exhaust us to death (I only have one and really admire you for managing 3), it’s always good to remember that they also fill our lives immeasurably. Thanks for a heartwarming post, Kathy!
Hi Kathy, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris
Ellie C says
Ah, Kathy – this brought tears to my eyes! Although these days SEEM so far off, I know they aren’t. “Behind the deeper voice and cries for independence he is the same sweet child who needs me. In some ways even more than he did when he was younger.” I love that Tom still needs you…gives me hope my boys will keep wanting that through their teenage years, too. 🙂
Beautiful post. I can definitely relate!! Sometimes after a busy day, I’m trying to go to sleep and I just feel so sad and guilty, because I didn’t spend any one on one time with my daughter that day…
Dani Ryan says
“When did I start seeing this sweet boy as one more thing on my list?” <<-- This really spoke to me. Those posts I've been writing about trying to find a balance are so I can find out how to stop myself from doing this exact thing. But it's so hard, isn't it? My issue is that I want to have a little time to do something for me everyday, because I know I need that in my life. But in order to get that time, everything else needs to be taken care of. So I often go into autopilot mode and just start checking things off the list. And then my 2-year-old will come in with a Sandra Boynton book for me to read to her, and I'll realize how wrong my priorities are most of the time. And yet I do it again and again. Maybe by the time she has her own kids, I'll finally have it right???
Kathy Radigan says
Dani I really think this is the million dollar question that most of us are asking ourselves. Balance has never been my forte in life!! Lol! I find it so comforting to know I’m not the only one that struggles with this. Thanks so much for coming by and visiting!! xo