I chaperoned a trip for W’s freshman connection class yesterday, and I have to say I’m really excited for him. I’ve largely forgotten how promising life was when I was a freshman, when high-school was new and the Senior girls looked so grown-up I wondered how I’d ever get to be that sophisticated/able to poof my bangs that high. I remember when I was W’s age, and everyone told me not to be in a hurry to grow up, and all I could do was scowl and think adults were stupid. But now I’m on the Adult Side of the equation, and darned if those adults didn’t know exactly what they were talking about.
Often I’m sad that I didn’t cherish being young while it was happening. But I also realize that I didn’t have much of a chance to do that — I wasn’t that well prepared for life, mostly because my parents were just too busy trying to keep it together themselves, not because they were malicious. In any case, I didn’t really know how to take things slow and stay a kid for as long as possible, because I had a lot of demands placed on me from an early age that didn’t leave much room for that. But I can’t go back in time, and I can’t start acting like I’m 14 again to make up for what never was. What happened has happened… and while I’m not entirely comfortable with how my life’s gone, I also know that it won’t change unless I change… and 20 years from now I don’t want to be looking back at my 30s and 40s as the time when I was still young enough to do something and yet didn’t.
Seeing W embark on his teen years touches my heart, and seeing 180+ freshman all bursting with the sort of exuberance (mixed with fear) that I had as a teen-ager was beautiful. I am grateful I can help W linger in his teen years rather than pushing him to grow up and burden him with harsher realities than he can handle. He’s such an awesome kid, and I’m so proud to be his mother. I’m blessed with the ability to be able to step back but also to offer a safety net if he needs it, one day at a time. And even though seeing all those teenagers who are just about to start out on a marvelous adventure reminds me of how screwed-up my could-have-been-marvelous adventure ended up, I am so happy for him, I want to scream and cry and do some sort of mama chest-pounding.
I keep saying “this age is the best yet!” when it comes to W’s growing-up, but this time I’m serious.