Today I am a mother of a twenty-one year old. That feels so strange to type out, even though I have known it was coming. And fast.
I think back at the days before he made the choice to go into the Marines and the tension in the house was enough to choke on. There were days when I was ready to ask Kevin to take this kid out of my house because I wanted to throttle him. So many times it was Kevin's advice and clear-headed thinking that got us through those times. I never did have my son go stay with someone else, and I think it was the knowledge that I could, if it got too bad.
Don't get me wrong, there were other days when we'd be awake long into the night talking about philosophy, religion, politics, life, and more. There were days when the laughter rang out through the house and filled it with sunshine. Those, truly, are the days I focus on the most.
Do I think he's now a man simply because he reached an age? No. Quite simply, my son took many steps to becoming a man. One of the most significant ones was in early December, 2009. This crazy-haired kid with the chains on his pants asked me to sign the papers giving him permission to join the Corps before his birthday. Even with all of the fears I had, with all the doubts, I knew, above all else, that I was proud of this young man.
Do I still think about the little boy that he once was? Of course! There is no way not to. But mostly I think about the future that is filled with possibilities for this wonderful young man. And I smile, even through the bittersweet tears of my heart.