When your youngest turns 18…


My son after his final performance in "Beauty and the Beast." He played both a beast and a prince perfectly... just like in real life. :)
My son after his final performance in “Beauty and the Beast.” He played both a beast and a prince perfectly… just like in real life. 🙂

“Let me see. If Adam is turning 18 today, and  I was X  when he was born. Then X  + 18 = my age now.”

“Really? I’m only + 18?”

(Foolishly, I had been adding a year to that since my birthday in August. I’m not as old as I thought? … I better double check my math.)

“If this is 2014, and I was born in 19_ _; then 2000 – 19_ _ = _ _+ 14 = how old I will be in August. Not now. I’ve been saying I already was X  + 18 + 1!”

(And my students always asked me how Algebra applied to real life! Ha!)

I guess having my youngest child turn 18 was making me feel old, and I needed some reassurance. After all, I officially have no children; I have five adults.

How did they grow up so quickly?

I remember when I was a new mother — the instant mother of four children, ages 9, 8, 5, and 3, followed by the long-awaited birth of my first biological child. Life was a wee bit crazy…

Older women, ones I now recognize as empty nesters, would tell me, “Treasure these moments because they go so fast.”

“Some days,” I respectfully retorted, “that’s what I’m counting on.”

To be honest, some days I still am. The days when this youngest son refuses to complete his homework or argues against doing chores or forgets to communicate where he is going or snubs the meal I am offering or keeps me awake worrying until he arrives home safely.

But then I see him wow the crowd as the Beast in the school’s rendition of Disney’s musical “Beauty and the Beast.” Or I watch him play the best basketball game of his life. Or I remember that this is likely the last season I will keep score for his baseball games. Or I consider this may be the last time he will seek my admiration and approval before heading on a date. Or I take the time to converse when I recognize that he simply wants to talk — about his day, about his game, about his performance, about life.

I am trying to treasure the moments rather than hurry through these last days of my son’s high school career, these early days of his adulthood when I still have some control, when he still values my input and praise. I try to remember that these days of late nights and bustling activity are short-lived. To learn from experience that they do pass quickly. And to just plain experience them before they have passed.

Of course, turning 18 isn’t just a sentimental landmark or a legal milestone; in our family, my husband and I call the 18th birthday “Emancipation Day.” By that we mean our children have reached the age of “financial independence.” (In other words,  adulthood has its costs.)

On the evening of this, his “emancipation” birthday, Adam suddenly announced, “I just turned 17, not 18.”

I had done my math earlier that day. Apparently, Adam just started doing his. 🙂

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