I woke up this morning the mother to a 9 year old. I was thinking it wasn’t so bad. At least it wasn’t DOUBLE digits yet. I can handle 9. It’s not so different from 8 if you think about it. Then steps in my mother. She might not have known what she was doing but she uttered the words that will forever change my thoughts on the tender age of NINE. It wasn’t intended to be so soul crushing but I expect it was coming from a place of (her own) experience. Some things might be better left discovered all on your own.
Oh, what she said? Right.
I’m finding it even hard to type it.
Ok, here goes.
She said, “Jackson’s going to be nine! That’s like HALFWAY TO COLLEGE!”
Que the sounds of my shattering heart.
What came to mind is all the things she didn’t say but this implied. She didn’t have to. They were all already playing in fast play thought my mind. The NEXT half of the time he lives in my house will include drivers licenses, cars, girls and friends that I don’t choose! It’s certainly not to say that the best years are behind us but the part that I played the greatest influence in may lie in our past. While the next 9 years will certainly require more mentoring and shaping, the years of physically serving and mothering this child are constantly becoming less. As I sit here in a pool of tears I can only hope that all that we have done as parents to this point laid a foundation of love, confidence and morality. You’ll always wonder if you did enough, gave enough, were patient enough. You’ll always think of ways you could do better, be better, try harder.
The young and innocent years are closing in on me. I know that the “magic of Christmas” and whole hardheartedly believing are coming to an end. I think he’ll probably let me hang on a little longer, he has siblings that he is mindful of. I know that the days of him walking up and grabbing my hand as we walk probably wont last much longer. I want to cry each time he does it wondering…will this be the last? I cherish every over the top goodbye on the way to school. There will come a time he will want me to drop him off around the corner and it probably isn’t that far away. As much as all of this hurts to admit, I have to remember what a great kid he's grown into also!
Jackson was our first born. He had us as brand new inexperienced parents (not that we are all that great now either!). He got us fresh but also totally green. We were young! We took what we had learned from our parents and put our own twist on it and gave it a spin. Jackson got to experience lots of LIFE in his first few years. He was born in Alabama but before he could crawl, we moved back to North Carolina. Not long after his first birthday his Daddy deployed for a year. We spent lots of time with our extended family in Alabama and lots of time with other military families from all over the US in our situation. Before Jackson started school, we moved him to Tennessee for Dad to start a whole new career and get a masters degree. Before second grade we moved again, this time to Texas for his Dad’s new job. Jackson learned early in life that friends come and friends go. He learned that making them is as easy as “Hi, my name is Jackson!” He still makes friends that easy. I hope he carries that on with him.
Jackson NEVER loses his sense of direction. He always knows exactly where he is. If he watches where he goes once, he’ll never forget it. I hope he ALWAYS remembers his way HOME! And as much as we move, I hope he knows HOME is where the people that love you are!
Jackson wants everyone to be happy. If he knew I was crying in a puddle over him turning nine, he’d be down here with his arm around me…even for a fleeting moment…saying, “Mom, are you ok?”
As maddening as these pre-teen years a can be with their “playing dumb” and slight laziness, I have to remember there is still plenty of childhood left to live. There are still legos to be played with, and still basketballs to shoot. There are still parks to play at and made up obstacle courses to complete. There IS still time to enjoy the years we have. The point is to ENJOY THEM! So today as he reaches this milestone (and I continue to morn the loss of years gone by), we embark on the next nine years. Whatever they may be filled with, I hope they are every bit as special as the last nine years have been raising and loving Jacskson.