Josh, my firstborn turns 18 today - yet another epic milestone in his life and mine. As of today, I am now officially the mother of an adult. How did this happen so quickly?
I am not going to lie and say that I enjoyed every second of his growing up for eighteen years. Oh, we had plenty of imperfect moments. At times, I felt like strangling him when he was hellbent on making me murderous and pissing me off. I am sure we drove our neighbors crazy with our shouting matches! And I am most certain, he was the cause of that perpetual scowl on my face! But I am going to congratulate myself and him for coming out of this turbulent journey to adulthood alive, unscathed and sane!
What do I write about this amazing young man who brings out the best and worst in me? He's the most compassionate person I know. He's generous, accommodating, tenacious, considerate, smart and funny though his younger brother, Rodney, will tell you differently. But even with Rodney, his greatest foe, I’ve witnessed acts of fierce protectiveness and support when needed.
I believe Josh's best qualities, his compassionate heart and thoughtfulness will serve him well in life. The first time I noticed these qualities was when he was three - we were at the traffic lights when a turtle from a nearby pond was crossing the road behind us and a car rolled over it. Josh cried his eyes out and was inconsolable until we convinced him that the turtle was having a better life in turtle heaven. On his 4th birthday, he requested for a pair of terrapins. At the pet shop, he chose a blind terrapin and another deformed one. Josh insisted on bringing them home 'cos he figured that if we didn't, no one would buy them and he couldn't bear the thought of them languishing in the pet store. Once, while walking down a street, we stumbled upon a lifeless rat. Josh stopped short , closed his eyes and clasped his wee hands in prayer over the dead rodent! Bless his little heart! And when he was in first grade, he would queue up every single day at the canteen to buy food for his disabled classmate. I see the same compassion in this young man still. Josh actively contributes his time and effort to volunteerism and community services. He teaches kids from war-torn countries at a refugee camp. He intends to volunteer his service at an animal shelter during his coming semester break.
If I could rewind time, which part would I play over and over again? It would most definitely be the stage between toddler and boy. And I would most certainly skip the mid teenage phase! Shudder!
My perfect moments? When he made me my first Mother's Day gift? The times when he would accompany me everywhere and didn't think that hanging out with mom wasn't uncool?When he bought me cookie cutters with the prize money he won in the first contest he entered? It's kinda hard to qualify some moments as better than others. Just the other day, I visited his former high school to collect his certificates and the teachers were telling me what a fine young man Josh turned out to be. His school counselor congratulated me for raising him well! That, for me, was my most perfect moment, the culmination of 18 years of parenting.
This young man has tested my mettle, grown me in patience and strengths I never thought I had in me. I guess the time has come to cut the apron strings - to let my baby go and grow independently no matter how much it hurts.
Happy 18th Birthday, son!