Twenty-one years old, holding tight against me this life to whom I was the whole world, scared to break him, thrilled to mold him, teach him, guide him, lead him. Set him free. See him blossom.
He burst forth and I learned I was tougher than I thought I was. He cried for six months and I learned that I was stronger than I thought I was. He stretched and pulled and softened me and I learned that my own mother was my hero and if I could achieve even half of what she had in his upbringing I would wear that parental success with pride.
What is eleven? It can't be corralled into a sentence or assigned a
colour. It is messy floors and don't care about showering and peach
fuzz on an upper lip - but this can't define it. It's too grown up to be called Baby but young enough to be called Babe. It is attitude and entitlement and annoyances and done with toys but not Lego. It's all the sweetness of that first nestling infant tucked up hard into the heart of a boy with sights set on being a man.
Eleven is each white hair named for and from him. It is those moments when he nurtures and cares with a tenderness beyond what I could have possibly bestowed. It is those moments when he riles and stomps and lashes but still comes back with all apology because when he breaks my heart he breaks his own.
And his own is so soft and he stands so strong and sure and I am bursting with pride over his own self-worth and the way he remembers people gently and how he fools me into thinking he believes in magic and lets me tuck him in at night and still kisses me square on the lips because in our home our love is loud and true like that.
Eleven is taking his own dishes to the sink. It is helping the little one turn on the bathroom tap. It is homework. It is actual competition in Boggle. It is yelling back as he runs out the door for the bus, "Love you, too!" while all I hear is the echo of a three-years-old with that grin dripping joy, "I you much!"
Eleven. And I am an old woman and I am still so young and he has so much growing to do and soon his daddy will teach him how to shave and then drive and then...and then...and then...
I hope only that in all things I can be proud of this little man I have made, sent out upon the world to make it that much better.
Eleven. It just crept right up and kicked me in the shin but I'll kick it right back and say with confidence that I've done all right so far. So far, he's turned out pretty darn good.