Fifteen years ago, a precious little blond-haired, green-eyed bundle of joy was placed into my arms. I was no longer only a career woman, married to a great guy.
I also gained the title of “mom.” And from that moment, my life was never the same.
A whole new world.
Good gracious. What in the world was I doing? This little life was now my responsibility? Was I ready for this?
First, it was the sleepless nights. The worrying about feedings and formulas and stuffy noses. Did I mention sleepless nights?
Then the toddler years. The potty training. The preschool decisions. The kindergarten parties.
I thought those were the tough days. I thought life would get easier as our children grew. As we were able to sleep through the night, as he was able to dress himself and brush his teeth without reminders (most days).
But oh, how I was so very wrong. The worries were just different. And they truly seem to pale in comparison to the teenage years.
It’s a delicate time. Of letting go, yet still guiding. Of hoping the life lessons you’ve instilled are really sticking. Of praying you’re teaching all the skills he will need to make it on his own in just a few short years.
Will he be able to do his own laundry? Will he know to separate the lights from the darks? Will he be able to make a meal that doesn’t come on a stick or in a frozen bag? He can’t just live on corn dogs and chicken nuggets, can he?
Despite the worries and sleepless nights, though, we simply must focus on what we’re doing right as parents. All of us.
In honor of these 15 years of you being our guinea pig in this parenting gig, Waylon, this is for you.
This is for you.
I know we have high expectations for you. You’re the firstborn, and we’ve wanted you to excel at all that you try. To put your best foot forward. To not give it anything less than your greatest effort. Please know, it’s only because we know you can do it. And our goal is simple: to help you develop that work ethic that’s going to carry you through your career for a lifetime.
I can see the effort you make to bite your tongue when I ask those annoying questions. “How was your day?” “What was great about school today?” I can see you trying to be polite when I remind you use your manners. And never forget how so very proud I am when an adult lets us know how kind and considerate you are.
Your mom’s not “cool.”
I know you don’t always feel like talking to me about your problems, or what’s on your mind. I am your mom, and to a teenaged boy, it may not be cool. (And yes, I know. You tell me “cool” is not “cool” to say anymore. I’m trying.) But know I’m always here for you. Always.
You’re the first child. The oldest. You’ve been the recipient of the trial-and-errors of first-time parents. Yes, your younger brother may get a phone earlier than you did. Yes, your little sister may get more leeway with certain family rules. It’s not because we love them more. We have just learned to let some things go as time goes on. Thanks for taking one for the team.
I know my hugs can sometimes drive you crazy. I try not to embarrass you too often in front of your friends. But know, I am always going to hug you. Because you’re always going to be my boy. Deal with it.
I love seeing you become “you.”
We are doing our best to let you be your own person. To make your own mistakes and learn from them. To try new activities and learn where your passions lie. To avoid haircuts, even when we beg. (Although, I’ll admit – those long curls are growing on me, too.) You need to be “you.” And we are so proud watching that process unfold.
I’ve heard it said that the sign of a good parent is one who worries they’re completely screwing up. Why? Because that shows you care. It shows you truly do want what’s best for your children.
Being in the livestock industry, every one of us is investing a great deal of time, energy and yes – money – into helping our children succeed and grow. To me, that’s complete evidence that we do care about these young folks in our lives. We do want to be the best parents we can be.
Will we make mistakes? Of course. Lots of them.
But we will keep working to correct the mistakes and try again. I have a feeling our children will know we love them, and know we have always tried to do what’s best.
Even if we do embarrass them with our hugs, and by using the term “cool” in public.
This article originally ran in the May/June 2019 issue of Hereford World. Some information has been updated.