21 Son Salute

A new parenting milestone:  my oldest turns 21 this week.

In the scheme of things, nothing really changes.  I’m still his mom; he’s still my child.  But somehow 21 seems the magical number of true adulthood.  Not 18; but 21.  There is nothing more that my son, in theory, can’t do.  Like voting or buying lottery tickets or… drinking.

Some parents would be envisioning their now-adult child heading to a bar or liquor store.  Not me; not mine.  He tried a beer once.  That was enough for him.

So does this birthday hold any meaning at all?  My son, the adult.  Does it mean he doesn’t need me anymore?  Is my job over?

I’m torn.  Do I want him to be independent?  Yes?  Do I want to think that I have done a great job raising him to stand on his own two feet?  Yes.  Do I want to be superfluous in his life?  NO!

When my son was deciding where to go to college he would say, “I want to be far enough away that mom can’t call and expect me home for dinner.”  It was sort of a running joke.  Well, at over 1800 miles away, he accomplished that.  And I have told anyone who would listen that his going so far away has been a good thing for both of us.  He has grown up and matured faster and in many ways; I have learned to mostly let go.  But it is a gradual process for us both.  A slow evolution.  Me in my role as a mom.  He in his foray into adulthood.

Text message from son:  “So I should get a flu shot? Yes?”

Text response from mom:  “Yes!”

Text message from mom:  “Did u get your flu shot yet!”

Text message from mom:  “Get your flu shot already!”

Text message from mom:  “Please tell me when you get your flu shot so I can stop asking.”

Email from son:  “I may come home for a few days over break.”

Email from mom:  “Airfares are going up; book your flight home soon.”

Text message from son:  “Are you free later to look at flights with me?”

Skype conversation:  Mom – “What day do you want to plan to fly home?”  Son – “I don’t know all my plans yet.”  Mom – “Well then maybe you need to figure that out and book the tickets another day.”  Son – “I guess so.”

Text message from son:  “Luv ya:)”

To read more about my son, check out the birthday post from last year.

P.S.  Flu shot – done.  Spring break airplane tickets – still waiting but not nagging:)

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54 Comments

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54 responses to “21 Son Salute

  1. The bond between a mother and son is a very strong one. Speaking as a 52 year old son who still has a very strong bond with his mother, I think you nothing to worry about losing him, or being superfluous.

    • Karen

      I’m glad to hear that because I know the old saying along the lines of “your daughter’s your daughter for all of your life; your son is your son til he takes him a wife.” And I know I am much closer to my mom than my brothers.

  2. Sounds like the bond between you and your son is quite strong. Good for you two.
    Congrats on having your son turn 21.

  3. LOL, so cute. My daughter is now 27 and she still needs me…just not quite as much. And I still need her too…just not quite as much 🙂

  4. So sweet. And I had to laugh… some things never change. My mom and I have been having a similar exchange regarding a plane ticket for the past two weeks for when I go home to visit in a couple months. I don’t have children yet; so, I can’t relate on that aspect. But I can tell you that I love my mom more and more the older I get.

    • Karen

      I think my kids love me – what I hope as they age is that they appreciate me too, realize all I have done for them over the years, and LIKE me:) If that makes sense.

  5. LOL, love this post! My oldest is 16, I’m so not ready.

  6. Love this post.

    Congrats on raising such a wonderful young man!
    🙂
    J

  7. It’s apparent you’ve done well, mom. 😉

  8. Love this post!! Happy birthday to your son!

  9. This gives me encouragement that when my daughter leaves for University next year, there may still be a special closeness. This is the first time I remember seeing a photo of you…you are gorgeous! And, so is your boy!

    • Karen

      I posted a photo on my anniversary post in December. But it is also on my “about me” page. It was scary – giving up more anonymity like that.

      Technology has really helped with the closeness. It is so easy for “kids” to text or online chat or skype; much easier than a phone call or letter. But my son is great about calling too. He’ll do it about once a week or so when he is walking across campus. My younger son, who will be in college next year, will likely be another whole story! I keep telling him he’ll have to unprivatize his facebook page if he wants me to send care packages:)

  10. Mine are one year behind yours so I have that 21 milestone staring me in the face. Oh, letting go is so hard. So very hard!

  11. I have a 17 year old son who is very independent. He is a really good kid. He has been talking about colleges and every time he mentions going to college out of state my chest gets tight. I know it is a possibility and it would be great for him I would just miss him so much. But the last thing I was to do is hold him back from what he wants to do with his life. Why does having children have to be so hard sometimes times. On the other hand those hard times are so made up for with hugs, games nights or when your children come to you for advice. Those times are priceless!

    Happy birthday to your son! Make it a great day! 🙂

    • Karen

      In some ways I guess it is easier with him further. I never have to thing “he doesn’t come home and he is so close.” Most of my friends have their kids in state schools; it is really the trend where we live. They can’t imagine the kids being halfway across the country like mine.

  12. D

    Love it! Mine turns 22 this year – and my daughter is heading to 20, the other to 17. Wow! Time flies!
    Happy Birthday to your son! & to you for raising such a great man!
    D

  13. Happy birthday to # 1 son. Sounds like a great kid. My youngest graduates in May from college – whew!

    I echo so many of your sentiments about wanting them to be independent along side wanting them to love mom, family and home (in that order =D). My sons are 22 and 24, daughter is 27. They are all good humans with kind hearts and wicked humor – like mom. Dad sits among us when we’re all together and scratches his head over our irreverence, potty humor and jargon. I’ve had some very similar text, email and skype conversations you note. It sounds like he’s very connected to you and family, as all three of mine are. But it’s weird when that first one hits bona fide, even if only legal, adulthood.

    And BTW Missy, you look darn lean in that picture! You deserve that elusive peace with food.

    • Karen

      I suspect my youngest will not be as connect once he is out the door. I am working on it! Holding the threat/reward of care packages over his head:)

  14. Awww…how sweet of you both to try different modes of communication (both in what to say/how to say it AND in technology).

    You are too cute.

    • Karen

      Yep, my kids taught me about texting. This son signed us up for skype before he went to college. It is because of him that I first got on FB and first learned to online chat. What is next?

  15. Happy birthday son, it sure sounds like you have raised a good young man. I hope you both enjoy today!

  16. Awww, this post is so good for me. As my son is a Sophomore in HS I have been freaking out over it. I mean…I love my kids and I love our family…here in the same house…yet there is a part of me that is so excited for them. So excited to see how they do.

    Karen, I always appreciate your kinds comments on Skinny Me:)

  17. That is a lovely post. From my own experiences I can say that after college gets even better. Yep, they get independence, but so much more. The conversations you have with your adult kids can be grand. I feel like parenting never ends, just changes form. My adult kids are still my kids and they come back often. It is different and wonderful.

    That is also a great picture of you: You look fantsatic!

  18. I love the framed the photo of my twins together for their 21st birthday – I agree that was the most significant demarcation for me.

    They are now 23 and I still hear from each of them every few days. And I nag them about their flu shots, too!

  19. Happy 21st to your beautiful son! I don’t have my own children but I have three steps and they are 31, 28 and 25. I’ve seen them all come through the scary teen years, the uncertain young adult years, and now into more of what I consider “full” adulthood. The 25-year-old and her husband are due with their first child on April 1!

    This post has me in tears…I guess I am just emotional and missing my Dad…like mothers and sons (and you and your son in particular), fathers and daughters share a special bond….and I see me and my Dad in your post.

    And because I miss what I *wish* I could have with my mother. Something I haven’t written about on my own blog is that the day before my father died, I cut ties with my mother. Her particular brand of poison just isn’t welcome in my life right now. My parents were divorced when I was three so it’s not like the two events were connected in any way…the last time my mother and father even saw each other was 13 years ago at my wedding.

    So in essence, I sort of feel like an orphan. I don’t mean to hijack your wonderful post with all of this…but it seems like a good place to put it right now.

    • Karen

      Hugs, Karen. My heart goes out to you. And I know what you mean about dads. Not sure if I already shared with you that I lost mine unexpectedly over 20 years ago. I know this won’t help you now, but it does get easier over time. Congrats on the upcoming baby!

  20. I have two grown chldren–both sons. It’s different between mothers and sons than mothers and daughters, I think. Chuckle. There are some experiences a mother of daughters will never have. lol. I won’t hog your blog by giving examples, but I’m sure you hve your own list.

    Your son is adorable, by the way. I have a question, tho. If that is you, exactly where is this weight you need to lose? I can find nary a spot by looking at that picture.

    Deb

    • Karen

      Ah yes, I just wrote a whole post about this for you and others who commented. I’ll probably publish it sometime next week. The brief overview – I am a yo-yo dieter. I was thinner then:(

  21. Love this Karen! I know many out there are nodding there heads yes to all you wrote! Happy bday to your son & it is obvious you are a great mom!

  22. Sons they can pull at your heart. I have two that are grown now:) Great post!

  23. I really love the photo, Karen!

    This story is for you, not your boy:

    I remember so clearly turning 21! Three days later, I was in a cab with strangers heading to the train station to return to college. I had mentioned I just had that birthday. A woman in the cab said: “After you turn 21, the years just fly!” Too true that.

  24. That is so sweet! I love the photo so much. I love it when big boys still adore their moms.
    Congratulations on doing such a great job and not nagging about those tickets!

    • Karen

      I am getting so much better at not nagging. My mom asked me last night what my son was doing about a summer job. I told her I had no idea since I was not asking or nagging. Big steps for this former helicopter mom:)

  25. Nicole

    Congratulations on raising a beautiful and kind hearted son!! What a great picture of the two of you!! Happy, Happy 21st Birthday to your son!! 🙂

  26. I have a son just a couple years from college ready. I told my husband it is weird to be in this phase of saying, when he’s gone we’ll…almost morbid sounding. But that is the whole point, right? To raise them so they can move out? We also have a daughter with ASD. We feel like we will be able to hold on to her longer. 🙂

    • Karen

      We do that about our next one leaving! “When he’s gone…” My niece is on the spectrum and getting her Master’s then PHd in some physics subject.

  27. Lol my mom went through the same thing you did. THOUGH I’m 28 now and there are times where I have to say “mom let it GO.”

  28. aw, happy birthday to your son! don’t worry, you will ALWAYS be his mom no matter how old he gets. sons love their mothers. that’s a great picture of you too! 🙂

  29. Crazy word, I know, but all I can think of is “What an ADORABLE post!” Picture, conversations, perplexing questions… all adorable. And I’m totally certain that you’ll NEVER be superfluous in his life, nor he in yours. Gotta love this relationship!

  30. I’m 52 and my parents still haven’t let go. They say they don’t have to. 🙂

    Awesome picture of you and your son!

  31. He is adorable Karen! Happy Birthday Blessings to him.

    I love the photo of the two of you hugging. Congrats on your great parenting and raising a wonderful young man.

    My youngest is 21 and he also tried a beer one time and said he had no idea what all the fuss about it is, he thought it tasted terrible! Yeah! Sigh, relief.

    There is something so special about the relationship between a mother and a son. My son is my comic relief, my daughter is a great comfort and friend. They are both special in different ways!

  32. sunnydaze

    What a nice picture:) It sounds like you’ve done a great job with him but I feel your pain. My DD just turned 19 and has started collecting her things to create her own home when she moves out. ::sigh:: I know I have to let her grow up but I hate it. I wish I could shrink her back little. I guess this starts a new phase in our lives, as well. ::hug::

  33. Ah,,that was the sweetest post. Sounds like you two have a wonderful relationship. 🙂

  34. Happy birthday, WT’s son! As he gets older, the relationship you have with him will become even more special (if that is even possible to imagine!)

  35. My oldest is 11 (son). I hope he returns to giving me hugs like your son proudly hugs you. And what a relief it must be to know drinking doesn’t interest him.

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