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December 10, 2012

Lisa Madras: As the son rises brightly, another is setting

NEW CASTLE — What memory from this past year makes you smile the most?

Ah, memories! Yet another thing that's so special to us that countless songs have been penned in its honor.  

I know this blog might seem sorta New Years-y, but even the beginning of December (at least for me) really brings on that awareness that another year has passed and is ready to be put to bed. Besides, you can't spend the whole month stressing about Christmas, right?

Personally, 2012 was a much better year for me than last few. It's true that some things didn't change, and there were certainly losses, but for the first time in a long time, the happy moments seemed to outnumber the sad.  

Now keep in mind that I have a son who, although technically only 12, has nonetheless hit the dreaded teen-age years. That means that I have whole new set of problems to worry about, since he seems to feel that the onset of puberty has somehow granted him some sort of universal permission to stop doing his homework and to speak in a rather snarky tone when asked the simplest of questions.

But his old mama, for as ancient and clueless as she seems, remembers the teen-age years like they were yesterday, and while I intend to give him some leash, I'm certainly not going to let him hang himself with it.

Along with the less than stellar attitude, though, has come a real growing up for my little boy — literally and figuratively. He surpassed me in height and weight this year, and is wearing shoes that only he and Shaquille O'Neal can fit into. But more than that, his voice has deepened, and his face has finally lost that childlike roundness to angle itself into the sharper features distinctive to the men in the Madras clan. He no longer looks or sounds like a little boy.

I've often said that my son was born with the soul of an old man, but only in this last year did his emotional maturity finally catch up with his intellectual maturity, leveling out the playing field of his thoughts and emotions. I'd been waiting for this, knowing it would bring my son some relief, and it was wondrous to see it unfold. It was like watching him settle into his own skin for the first time.

Suddenly, he knows exactly who he is, and who he wants to be.

I spent a magical summer with him and my daughter, camping, swimming, and riding our bicycles until the mosquitos chased us back indoors. I felt the sharp pang of watching this man-child doing all the things little kids love to do, all the while knowing that this summer was probably the last time my little boy would be a little boy.

It always happens, you know, no matter how hard we to try to fight it, so I decided a long time ago that I wouldn't even try. They become different creatures, swallowed up by iPods and independence and the pretty girl sitting next to them in chemistry class. Before I know it, time with Mom will be an embarrassment, and little sister will be as unendurable as a root canal.

It seems that I shouldn't be looking at this as my happiest memory of the year, but I do. I feared that I would never bring these children successfully to adulthood, on my own, and with no help from anyone else. I was scared that I couldn't ever be enough to make up what they were missing. But I've gotten one of them halfway there, and while I could do without the occasional temperamental outbursts and insolent eye-rolls, I really quite like this man my child is becoming.

The sun is setting on a certain portion of our lives, and even though it's a little bittersweet, I still love a beautiful sunset.

 

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