Eighteen years ago today was one of the happiest days of my life. It was the day I first met The Prodigal Son. For 9 months this little being inside of me had caused me pain, anxiety, joy, fear and also to gain 85 pounds. (That was HIS fault - NOT MINE). And then, after 3 horrendous days of labor - he was here - in my arms - all 5.5 pounds of him! My mom was pretty certain something was wrong with him the moment he was born because his head was the size of a tennis ball. Or so she said. But I took one look at him and fell in love and knew that in my eyes he would always be perfect. And our love for one another has been intense ever since. I'm pretty certain we are very much alike and hence the reason we often clash. Him - trying to be himself. Me - trying to mold him into what I think a son should be. And we've pushed and pulled and tugged and yanked and hugged and cried and laughed and at the end of the 18 year journey - we are here - me loving him more intensely than the day I met him. Him needing me but also needing to be his own person and me trying to let him go just far enough to get there, but close enough I can be here for him.
I remember the very first time he got an ouchie - and I cried - holy shit - his beautiful perfect skin is now marred - how could I have let this happen to him? He'll be scarred now. And then he got the chicken pox and I covered his little hands in mittens and bathed him constantly in oatmeal baths to help avoid horrible scarring. And then he got zits and I took him square away to the dermatologist to fix him up so he wouldn't be left with a faceful of scars. And now I learn - he's going to get a tattoo. All those years of me protecting his skin - lathering it in sunscreen, nagging him to do the same in my absence, putting lotion on it to keep it soft and nice - what was the point? I can't really decide if he's REALLY getting a tattoo - or if he's telling me that to get my goat. He seems committed to it - but his announcement didn't result in a rise out of me. I just said, "you're 18 - you'll do what you want and I can't stop you." So then he told his ultra-conservative father and all he said was, "I have one - I can't tell you not to do it." So today, he was talking about it again - and now he sounded like he is waffling on the decision. I personally do NOT care if he gets one. I don't. I just want him to be damned certain that is what he wants because it's not like getting your ears pierced - it's pretty much permanent. I don't want him regretting it down the road.
A few weeks ago he asked me if I would sign for the tattoo so he could get it before he turned 18. I told him I would NOT do that because when it's 20 years from now and he's pissed he has it, I didn't want him blaming it on me. He laughed and said, "Get real. Even if I wait until I'm 18 - I'm still going to find a way to blame you for this down the road." LMFAO! Ain't that the damned truth! No matter what we do as parents - somehow the kids will find a way to blame their mistakes on us.
We took the son to breakfast today - that was his big 18th birthday celebration. iHOP. Whoopie!!!! He was supposed to head out of town for a baseball tournament, but then it was put on rain delay for another day - and we're headed out of town for the brunette's softball tournament. So there we were - me, the husband, the blonde and the prodigal son. Eating our shitty food at iHOP - making small talk about college and plans and cars and insurance. And I thought: Wow. This is NOTHING like 18 years ago - when the room was full of relatives and friends and pizza and champagne! And as I recall - I got gifts that day - so far I haven't gotten a damned thing today. Don't I get something for the last 18 years of effort here? Evidently not.
So now he is an adult. I need to learn to shut my fucking mouth and let him explore the world on his own. Take chances. Make mistakes. And I have to learn to apply my unconditional love to him as he makes those mistakes and takes those chances and realize that he is living HIS life - NOT MINE. I think it will be difficult for both of us. But I am damned certain he knows without a shadow of a doubt that I love him and will always be here for him.
On my 18th birthday - I went bar hopping all day with friends and got free pitchers of beer at every bar. That's how it was back then. Today - he can register to vote. He can get married. He can enter into contracts (ie; get himself into a shitload of debt). He can fight in a war. He can buy tobacco products. He can win the lottery! But he cannot have a beer. Legally. It's total bullshit that I will never understand. So he hopped in his car - headed to the Kwiki Mart and bought a can of chew and a lottery ticket. They didn't card him. He was sorely disappointed. Something tells me he'll visit several Kwiki Marts this weekend - looking to get carded! I hope it works out for him. I really do!
And I hope he makes good decisions. And I hope he's happy along the way. And I hope all his dreams come true! God how I love that Prodigal Son!