“There’s a boy who stole my heart. He calls me mom.” (I have no idea where this came from)
YOU ARE THE ONE, Joshua Brian Goetz, who burst on the scene on April 4, 1996, weighing in at 9 pounds and 13 ounces (yikes!).
YOU ARE THE ONE who started out with baby acne and a fairly largish head and I felt mild pity for (just being honest) and a lot of extra love.
YOU ARE THE ONE who became the most adorable baby with your year-long toothless smile (so much for my pity party).
YOU ARE THE ONE who took three naps until you were one, giving this tired mommy a much-needed respite from handling three little ones under five!
YOU ARE THE ONE who sat with books in your crib for hours, happily “reading.” (Little did we know then that you are a high introvert and this was your plot to have some peace and quiet away from your hovering and excitable siblings.)
YOU ARE THE ONE who would only color with the orange crayon.
YOU ARE THE ONE who had all 150 Pokemon characters memorized and their “moves” when you were only three!
YOU ARE THE ONE we called Spot because you have had EVERY. SINGLE. POSSIBLE. RASH known to the medical community (you just had another one two months ago)!
YOU ARE THE ONE who hid behind the couch every time I left the room and jumped out and yelled “SURPRISE!” when I returned (one of my all-time best memories)!
YOU ARE THE ONE who wore some kind of cape everywhere we went, which morphed from a bandana to a full-fledged home-made BAT cape! You were my little superhero for sure!
YOU ARE THE ONE who drew on the hood of our friend’s brand new SAAB with a rock you found (cha-ching, cha-ching).
YOU ARE THE ONE that ONLY wanted a State Quarter Map for Christmas when you were four (we still have it in your room and it is full of quarters)!
YOU ARE THE ONE who organized all your outfits in your drawers and were mildly (okay, not so mildly) obsessed with shoes for years and years and years (who gets Famous Footwear gift certificates when they are just a young boy)!
YOU ARE THE ONE who fell sledding and ended up in a country hospital emergency room with stitches (which I had to take out because we moved three days later)!
YOU ARE THE ONE who asked this question when you were just 5 1/2: “Mom, if Jesus was Jewish, did He believe in Himself?”
YOU ARE THE ONE who did a cannonball into our indoor tub (it was kind of a big tub; I will grant you that).
YOU ARE THE ONE who filled our house with singing. I knew you were sick when it stopped and you were better when it started up again (you still sing today)!
YOU ARE THE ONE who always had a bucket and a net in your hand, catching all the creatures in lakes, gardens, ponds, rivers, and our backyard!
YOU ARE THE ONE who was rushed to the emergency room with a tonsil abscess and needles were poked into your throat and you threw up all over the doctor! You obviously lived to tell the tale!
YOU ARE THE ONE who had every kind of lizard and reptile as a pet (from anoles to geckos to bearded dragons).
YOU ARE THE ONE who was Hot Rod Hanson in the summer musical, girls swooning around you as you belted out your notes.
YOU ARE THE ONE who almost caught our house on fire with your water gun filled with lighter fluid in one hand and the BIC grill lighter in the other.
YOU ARE THE ONE who was fascinated by your lacrosse stick, walking constantly around the house with it, and eventually figuring out how to string it yourself!
YOU ARE THE ONE who made weird faces when playing on your game system, your mouth moving in all the directions of the controller.
YOU ARE THE ONE who broke your clavicle because you were chosen to play in a lacrosse tournament with the big kids. Emergency room #3!
YOU ARE THE ONE who was Gaston in the middle school play, Beauty and the Beast, again girls swooning around you as you belted out your notes (this time right before your voice changed – Gaston never sounded so feminine – and I don’t think “every last inch of you was covered with hair”)!
YOU ARE THE ONE who played on four basketball teams in Eighth Grade (no wonder your grades slipped into an uncomfortable place for this mama)!
YOU ARE THE ONE who watched the Office non-stop for about four years (I think you are still watching it).
YOU ARE THE ONE who grew about eight inches in one year, going from one of the shorter guards on your basketball team to one of the “big men.”
YOU ARE THE ONE who was obsessed with purple and penguins and hats (with the flat brim) and game systems and legos.
YOU ARE THE ONE who had a kids’ Batman backpack all of high school (yes, even into your senior year)!
YOU ARE THE ONE who had a 1 in 100,000 people knee injury your junior year playing basketball. After surgery, nine months of recovery and two more surgeries, we are crossing our fingers it’s finally healed!
YOU ARE THE ONE who got your ears pierced at sixteen much to my chagrin (you did take care of them much to my happy surprise – and you don’t wear them any more much to my “I-don’t-care-anymore-what-you-do” attitude).
YOU ARE THE ONE who bought kitten and lamb folders for your senior school year (you never ever ever ever ever cared about what anyone thought about you).
YOU ARE THE ONE who wrapped your arms around me one day when I was afraid and said, “It’s all going to be okay, Mom” (I recall you doing that again just last week).
YOU ARE THE ONE who beat everyone at Poker all the time. Enough said.
YOU ARE THE ONE who told your basketball coach not to put you in the starting line up your Senior Year, that you wanted to be the Sixth Man coming off the bench (WHO DOES THAT?!?).
YOU ARE THE ONE who proudly donned your “Raritan Valley Community College” t-shirt on “Decision Day,” while all your friends sported their VIP universities.
YOU ARE THE ONE who broke your hand playing in a Charity game and pretended your cast was a fashion accessory. (Most of our mom/son memories have come in that “room” at the doctor waiting endlessly for the knock on the door. We have had more than enough time to solve all the world’s problems).
YOU ARE THE ONE who wore a Batman shirt under your prom tux and painted (well Sarah painted) the Batman symbol on your graduation cap, a constant reminder of the superhero that you are!
YOU ARE THE ONE who took a Gap Year before you went to college, again being your own person and not falling in line with everyone else. (It was one of the best decisions you’ve ever made and we loved having the bonus time with you.)
YOU ARE THE ONE who jumped off a fifty-foot cliff into the waters of the Pacific Ocean on a whim (so so so glad I found out about this after you lived through it).
YOU ARE THE ONE who built your own computer with Lego Batman holding up the graphics card.
YOU ARE THE ONE who decided to major in psychology even though you don’t like people all that much. Of course. Of course.
YOU ARE THE ONE who wants to know a million random facts about anything and everything from why non-poisonous snakes flatten their heads when they are threatened to whether or not “pronunciate” is a real word (those are just the two from this past week).
YOU ARE THE ONE who became fixated on headphones and you actually write reviews on the internet for the subculture of headphone lovers. (Your college graduation gift is to get custom headphones made for your unique ears.)
YOU ARE THE ONE who did not walk at your college graduation because ceremonies just don’t cut it for you.
YOU ARE THE ONE who I can talk to about everything spiritual, cerebral and you always have an opinion about the subject matter at hand (kind of like your mama). Our banter is my favorite.
YOU ARE THE ONE who is still pulling Batman shirts over your head some mornings (I personally think you are way cooler than Batman)!
YOU ARE THE ONE who I am so thankful to have shared the last 24 years with. There is no one else quite like you. Really. Seriously. No one.
YOU ARE THE ONE who will always march to the beat of your own drum (or play a completely different instrument).
Meet Susan Bernstein! She is a wife to Eddie (married over 20 years), mom to three growing, young men (Brandon, Blake and Jordan) and a kind friend. Susan is a dog-lover, a very organized stay-at-home mom (she jokes that she spends half her life at the grocery store), an amateur photographer and an aspiring writer! Susan is loving, smart and brave. THIS WILL BE A HUGE TREAT FOR YOU PARENTS OUT THERE (no matter what your age and stage)! I hope you enjoy!
“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” (Denis Waitley)
I would suspect most people don’t cry when looking through a Bed, Bath & Beyond catalogue. Last night however, I found myself doing just that. As I studied the various organizational and space-saving items they sell to help one fit their belongings into a 14 x 14 foot dorm room, the tears just started flowing. I couldn’t believe that in one short month, I’d be packing my oldest son up for college. My mothering mind wondered if he’d have everything he needed, but deep down I wasn’t too worried about shower caddies or desk lamps. My concern was more for friends, support, and wisdom…things they didn’t sell in that catalogue.
My husband noticed my tears and came over to hug me.
“You ok?” he asked me for probably the millionth time this year.
“Yeah.” I exhaled and sighed.
“It’s not that I’m upset about him leaving,” a fresh sob forming in my throat, “It’s just that he’s never coming back.” And the floodgates erupted once more.
It hits me at odd times that our family of five will never again permanently reside under the same roof. I beamed proudly during his graduation ceremony without shedding a tear. However, I had to pull myself together in the aisle of the Hallmark store as I shopped for a card and gift just days prior. I choked back the tears as I chose Dr. Seuss’ Oh The Places You’ll Go, realizing he was about to begin a new phase of life, and it wouldn’t include us.
I knew in my heart the day would come. I mean, isn’t this what we plan for as parents all along? None of us have children and secretly hope that they’ll live with us when they are 40, right? The fact that they leave means we actually did something right as a parent! We raised a child strong and independent enough to survive on his own! Isn’t that the whole point of this parenting thing? We spent untold hours teaching them the value of hard work, integrity, and the need for sunblock. We had heart-to-hearts about taking the high road when betrayed by friends. We battled fears, real and imagined, late into the night, and steadied their shaky steps when they entered the unknown territory of a new school, team, or social circle. All the pep talks, time outs, chore charts, and consequences have paved the way to this moment. Leaving might actually be the Super Bowl event of parenthood, a time to fold our arms and smugly proclaim, “I rocked this parenting thing out of the park!”
Not exactly. Yes, he’s a capable, intelligent and (somewhat) responsible young man. He drives and makes decisions and can even vote or join the army if he wants to. But is he ready? I remember asking the same question when I left him at preschool a blink of an eye ago. He cried and cried for me, and I was sure I was doing him irreparable harm by leaving. It’s funny, because my heart hurts in the same way now. Except he isn’t crying anymore. He’s on Facebook meeting incoming classmates and looking for a roommate. So, he probably is ready. But am I?
Parenting seems to be the most selfless profession out there. After you’ve done all you can to love, nurture and raise this tiny little person, you need to let them go. As a child, my son believed everything I told him. Now, he forms his own opinions, and he is influenced by a myriad of voices over which I have no control. Our children aren’t mini-clones or younger versions of ourselves. They actually have their own unique identity. They will think and believe and do what they decide, and we are now on the sidelines, watching. We silently cheer them on and pray constantly that they will have victory. We are most definitely now on the bleachers watching their game of life, rather than next to them in the huddle.
As I prepare to release my son into the world, I will shop for all the things he needs for his new “home.” I will buy fluffy towels and warm blankets, plenty of Command hooks and microwave popcorn. He will leave packed up with all the essentials, including 18 years worth of unconditional love. I will watch with wonder, excitement, and a fair amount of sadness, as he leaves us behind and begins his life. He has a story to write, and he will write it his own way, on his own terms. I will always be a part of that story, but just one part, the one loving him from afar and praying that God protect him and put good, loving people in his life. And I suspect, for a few years at least, I’ll be the one helping to pack and organize him at Bed Bath and Beyond.
How great was that?! I just want to thank Susan for sharing her heart with each of us! If you are interested in reading other parenting blog posts by me, the Dolly Mama, click on the links below: