This is the year.
The year that every mother thinks will never really happen.
From the moment you have a baby, everything is about the firsts.
The first time they roll over, the first time they sleep through the night, the first time they eat solid food, the first time they lose a tooth, the first day of kindergarten, their first soccer game, and on and on it goes with the firsts.
Then, suddenly, you are staring at the face of a grown man who is going into his last year of high school.
And everything changes.
Now it’s starting to keep track of the lasts.
This will be his last year of high school, I’ll be taking pictures of his last first day of school, his last soccer season, his last, his last, his last.
And I don’t really remember thinking of this part of being a mom back when I brought him home from the hospital.
I don’t even remember thinking about it when I was running around to soccer tournaments and basketball games and different events.
You just don’t ever think you’ll be here, even though you know it’s reality.
Just like they all say it will. But you can hardly think of the word “fly” to describe the nights with a 1 1/2-year-old who doesn’t think sleeping is all that important.
You might think of drag, never-ending, long, slow…any of those.
And not in a negative, complaining way.
Just in a will-I-ever-sleep-again kind of way.
And the answer is yes. Yes you will.
And you will look back at those nights and long for just one more.
Just one more night where you can pick him up out of his crib, hold his sweet little curly haired head against your chest and sing.
You will wish for just one more day of sticky hands, toddling and never ending veggie tales movies.
You will wish for one more day of soccer tournaments, one more day of your boys asking to play video games together, one more day of all of those other ages and stages.
And then, when you are longing for those sweet days, your grown up boy will come up behind you and put his arms around you and say in his deep voice, “I love you mom.”
And you will be just fine with the stage you are in now.
You will be just fine with the amazing friendship you have gained, although you never even really thought about that aspect of it.
You will realize that all those people who tried to convince you that the teenage years are the worst could not have been more wrong.
You will enjoy exactly where you are, because you realize now, more than ever, how fast this time really went by.
Because you know that you are going to blink, and you will be talking about how fast this very stage went by.
I loved every single stage my kids have gone through.
I loved the 2’s, and I loved the pre-teens, and I love the teens.
They’re all different, but they are all amazing.
But this stage?
This stage of lasts? This one feels like it hurts the most.
Maybe it hurts the most because I’m thinking of how it’s going to just continue to become harder and harder.
The other stages had their share of emotions.
Mostly out of sheer exhaustion, but this stage has me longing for those days and nights of exhaustion.
And even if someone had told me that I would be longing for those days, I don’t think I would have believed them.
It’s the strangest thing, because what I have in my relationship with AJ is certainly nothing I would want to exchange for anything.
But it’s just that feeling of not wanting to let go…even though you know you need to.
One thing I am so grateful for is the fact that I kept persevering through those younger ages when it felt like all I was doing was disciplining all the day long!
Those days where I called my mom crying because I felt like my 2-year-old was just not obeying me and she encouraged me to just keep being consistent.
Those days where I felt like I wasn’t seeing any progress, but kept pushing anyways are what got me here today.
It got me to this day where my boy is happy to hug me goodbye, text me all day, remind me of how much he loves me and is a strong, godly leader to anyone who knows him.
And that makes this stage a little more bearable.
I am not emotional because I wish I could go back in time and change things.
I am just emotional because I am so proud of who AJ has become, and overwhelmed with the goodness of God that blessed our family the way He has.
And so tomorrow, as I start this first year of lasts, I am feeling grateful and joyful.
And that gratefulness and joyfulness is a straight up choice, because that’s what it always is.
But I am pushing away the feelings of sadness because I am not going to let my emotions control me and make me feel sadness.
I want to enjoy every minute of this stage too.
I am going to try to start every day with joy and just live in the moment.
This is going to be a great year.