This week, my son officially turns 21. No longer looked at as a minor, my boy is now a grown (fill in the blank) man. Able to buy liquor and be accountable for all of his actions, he isn’t the little kid who used to entertain us during family parties and create talent shows for the neighborhood kids to participate in. Those of you who know me understand it was a long road to get here. As a once-teen mom who struggled to raise her child, I look at his turning 21 as a major milestone for the both of us. Despite all the things we went through to get here, we both came out okay. He’s now a full-fledged adult living his life in Los Angeles, and I am now the parent of an adult. Growing pains, yes, but we are survivors.
I am still processing the fact that I am a now a mother of a 21 year old. I am more of an advisor now than a dictator. I am no longer an ATM, but a savings account where he occasionally withdraws money from when needed. So much has changed, but has stayed the same. We are close, but in a different way. He knows I am still there for him, but he wants to make his own way, mistakes included. It’s so weird, yet this is how it will be from now on. The parenting I’ve done all of these years, if done well, will continue to help him as an adult and as he makes his way through life. Now, it is all on him. Decisions, mistakes, ups and downs—he will have to own it.
Add to him turning 21 is also me turning forty. While he is getting used to his new age, I am being reborn in a sense. Approaching middle age and reinventing myself along the way, he and I are both at a critical point in our lives. What I do now will determine the quality of my life from here on out. And what he decides to do will help shape his adulthood and perhaps the rest of his.
Two different people, two different lives, and two different crossroads.
I was asked earlier how it feels to be a parent of a 21 year old. It is still quite new, but I feel peacefully euphoric. I also feel a sense of accomplishment that he is on his own, living in Cali, working hard, and living his dream. I am happy for him and where he is going and how he is handling his business. I pray daily that he continues to thrive in such a negative world. He’s a pretty good guy who hasn’t given me a lot of trouble, and I am so thankful for that. We’ve had our ups and downs, but I don’t think we’ve been as close as we’ve been right now.
We are bringing in his birthday by celebrating in The Big Apple. I flew him in from Los Angeles and I also came into town so we could spend some bonding time together in the city that never sleeps. Of course, he has friends that he went to school with that are also near the city, so he won’t be spending his entire birthday weekend with me. But being near him, even for our special little moments mean the world to me.
On April 10, 1994, my life changes forever. And today, his birth is now a fulfillment of a dream realized. I love you, son. And I always will.