As I am writing this it is 3:00 in the morning and I am wide awake in a hotel room with my husband and two of our four kids. Madelyn decided she has had enough of basketball and stayed home from the state championship with her cousin. My oldest, Jackson, is two floors below me sharing a room with three of his teammates. He is sharing a room. With no adult.  Sure, he is almost 16 and he is totally safe, but I just don’t know how we got here.

Jackson returned to school this year after being homeschooled for the past six years. Six years of being with him all day, every day, and just like that he is at school up to 12 hours some days during basketball season. When he comes home, he tiredly walks up the stairs to start his homework and facetime his girlfriend.

The transition to school has been difficult, especially because his new school is 40 min away from home but what has been the hardest for me is that when I look at him now, either on the court or dressed up for game day with his pink bowtie, all I see is my sweet boy. His love language was time and still is, he just has a lot less of it. The stress of academics and training seem to be taking a toll but there is still a fire in his eyes because he loves it. He is excited about his classes, his friends, his team and of course the girl. Ah, the girl. His first girlfriend,  And yet, I find myself longing for the days of Thomas the Train, looking for shells at the beach, family movie nights (it’s hard now with the age gap), when cell phones weren’t a thing and when those dumb air pods weren’t glued in his ears. I miss going to the park, bed time stories and prayers, watching Disney Channel, and all of the other things that I either took for granted or was so busy to soak in because I was looking to the next stage. I thought I had more time.  But, here we are. He can drive, hold a job, and do most things an adult can do but I miss him terribly.

 As he is finding his place he often seems far away. Giving them space is heart wrenching because all you want is for that little one to crawl up in your lap. People always tell you that time will fly. Such an understatement. But as much as I want to go back, I love who he is today. I love his love of family, tradition and his work ethic. I love the way he dances when he is really happy and the pure joy he exudes when with extended family.

When they are young you so often are just trying to survive the day to day. No one prepares you for the feelings of watching your children start to wander from the nest. The grief for what will never be again. Those days add up quickly and all of a sudden you have a 16 year old. The precious boy who wanted to marry me when he was three is a young man who can rest his chin on my head. His arms can wrap around me and then some when he hugs me. He can drive me to the store and even offers to buy my coffee. He grew up just like that. Like he is supposed to.

Even with all the changes, I can still look in his eyes and see that sweet, first born of mine. I will take every opportunity to talk, watch a movie or just sit together. I will be sure that he hears me say I love you everyday and that he knows what a gift he his. He will never doubt how proud I am  of him and he will know that I will support his dreams. Even if they seem crazy. I will alwas be a safe place to land when the world is cold and that my love for him is unconditional. There is no other love like it.