I'm the first to admit I don't have much experience letting go. My first child is turning 12 on Sunday, so it's not like I've sent them out of the country or seen them get married or anything. But today, I sent my boy off to scout camp for the very first time. And that's not half as bad as realizing I'm going to miss his birthday for the first time in his life.
After camp is done, and I mean right after, he and his dad are driving out to Disneyland to take advantage of their 2009 special to get in free for your birthday. He will be joined by my brother and my daughter, who also has a July birthday, but they are flying out--it will be Kylie's first time on an airplane.
This is the exchange. I took our 3 other kids last April down to Phoenix for a wedding and then off to Disneyland (because their birthdays are all on the same day, economic, huh?) with the understanding that Daddy will take the other two in July. Now it's July, and I'm realizing all the things I'm going to miss.
But by far, the hardest one to come to terms with is missing Brandon's 12th birthday. I mean, what kind of mom misses her kid's birthday?! But, ironically, it feels like a time in his life where things are changing (for obvious and not so obvious reasons), and it's almost fitting that the first snipping of the apron strings would happen now.
He's going to experience a lot of firsts that I will miss. His first kiss, for instance, comes to mind. Who does that in front of their mom? This is to be expected. Kids grow up, and there comes a point in their lives where their development would be hindered by the constant presence of their parent, rather than aided by it.
That doesn't mean we get to check out when they're 12. On the contrary, that's when they start to need us most. We provided balance, structure and guidance, but this is that point where they start taking the things we repeated incessantly their whole lives and decide for themselves whether or not they're going to listen. As they get older, the choices get bigger. Right now it's not such a big deal. But it has begun, and I see that.
For now, though, I'm just going to remember that huge hug he gave me before leaving, and hope that memory lasts me through the week.