Last week I put Aidan's graduation date in my calendar. And then I cried. I cried a full-on ugly cry all by myself in my living room.
I cannot be more clear about this....I enjoy my children more every single solitary time they age a year. I'm not a baby person. Fine, I actively
want to drop kick babies when I see them dislike them. Toddlers are migraine inducing, small children are willful. I get kids from about age five and up. I no longer have the patience for children one minute younger than my youngest (except for Logi Bear but that's because he's a 30 year old trapped in a small child's body).
So the reasons that I cried....well, they're complicated. First, there's my mom. My mom loved Aidan possibly more than any other person on the planet. On him she lavished all the feelings of love and attention that perhaps were too complicated and murky between she and I. She was proud of him in ways large and small and I know she would be so thrilled at the turn around in his grades and academic life....Aidan was her entire hope for the future and my heart breaks for him and for me that she won't be here to see him throw his cap in the air.
Secondly, there is time. Time is a fickle bitch. I spent a lot of my youth not being able to wait for adulthood. Adulthood is not as much fun as you think it is, kids. It really, truly seems like yesterday that they put that tiny, premature, jaundiced baby in my arms and I thought (out loud because I'm a total asshole sometimes), "Oh my God, I did all that work and got a boy????? And, of course, now I thank God that I did all that work and got that particular little boy because Aidan Erin James Harper saved me then and he saves me now in ways he will not possibly understand until he grows up and either has children of his own or takes one wholly into his heart to keep forever. But time never stops, and now I hear it like a bomb ticking, incessantly......tick, tick, tick.....BOOM! I know he's not really leaving forever, but I am closer and closer to him being out of my house and out of my day to day, moment to moment life and I still can't wrap my brain around it.
Thirdly, there is context. I've written (seemingly exhaustively to you, perhaps) about the hows and whys of how I came to have Aidan. Where I was in my life then? Wow. I was not four years removed from a devastating, soul-crushing heartbreak, a rape, a pregnancy and an abortion....I was doing too many drugs and spending too much time with people who were not worthy of me. When I got pregnant with Aidan I was on two forms contraception with a success rate of 98% or better. He was a very clear sign from God for me; time to grow up and pay attention to someone besides yourself. And while I'm a different, more whole, more confident, more healed person now, it is still amazing to look back and see what a difference one tiny person can make in the lives of so many.
There is the context of the other people and relationships he saved as well....Aidan's birth patched up many of the wounds my mom and I inflicted on one another over twenty six years. Not that we didn't continue to have issues, but he gave us something which united us together and unclouded many of my views of my mom as a person and as a parent. More importantly than that, I am 100% certain that I would have lost my brother to addiction and/or depression if Aidan hadn't been born. Aidan's birth was a catalyst that brought my beloved, drug-riddled, painfully skinny, broken brother back home to my mom and me....for that alone I will owe Aidan for the entirety of my life. Erin completely changed his life, he is whole and kind and alive. There are things you know about yourself and one thing I know is that had I lost Erin at that point in my life, a point without kids, I would have had nothing to live for. If Erin doesn't stop smoking and take better care of himself I will someday know what it is to lose him but now I am a mom and while I don't want to live in a world without him, can not even imagine existing in a place where he does not, I would carry on for my kids because it is what moms do.
And that's why I cried...Aidan's place in the world, what he means to me, his dad, his uncle....what he meant to my mom...I am incredibly blessed (mostly with and by dumb luck) to be able to shepherd this person into adulthood. I was thinking last week about how much I actually enjoy my kids...the funny, the sweet, the annoying...all of it. If nothing changes in Aidan's personality from today until the day he dies of old age....I like him. I think he's fall-down funny and whip-smart and heart breakingly beautiful. I love his view of the world and that he has a healthy dose of self deprecating humor that I gave him and that he has fine-tuned to comedic perfection. I love that he still likes me, doesn't mind hanging out with me and kisses me in public like it hasn't even occurred to him to be embarrassed by my existence.
Aidan turns 17 on Saturday. Before his next birthday he will have graduated high school. Seventeen is important, may this year be everything he hopes for himself and everything I hope for him. I hope he continues the path he's begun academically, I hope he does something wild and new and out of character, I hope he continues to be sweet and kind and empathetic (even when the world tells our boys not to). I hope he believes in himself and trusts his instincts. I hope he gets in trouble (but not too much), I hope he laughs and cries and feels. I hope he falls in love. I hope he never ever stops believing in magic. I hope, I hope, I hope...but I also believe. Happy birthday Aidan, I could not be prouder of you and I look forward to front row seats for what comes next. The training wheels are off (I thought you'd appreciate the bike metaphor) and you've got this.