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.