The following appears in the August edition of Chicago Parent.
Two years ago, I noticed mom friends posting pictures of their kids standing next to them as their babies passed them up in height.
My underachieving oldest son, Danny, was nowhere near my size.
Of course, when your mom is 6’ tall, this milestone can prove challenging.
This summer, it took a slight tilt upwards to make me realize that the angle of our eye contact had officially shifted.
I couldn’t wait to capture that much-anticipated photo, but Danny quickly shot it down. He’s at that age where photographic evidence of his existence is frantically shunned.
My three boys are nearing the most confusing and hormone-driven stage of their lives. I’ve lectured them so many times on the underdeveloped male prefrontal cortex, that they use it against me:
“Sorry I forgot my shoes, mom, but you know…PREFRONTAL CORTEX.”
“I know I was supposed to call, but I got all prefrontal cortexy and you understand how that impacts decision making and impulse control.”
There are days I congratulate myself for having the foresight to keep my kids far away from social media. Yet I still feel the pain of other mothers as their kids are ostracized and humiliated because of it, often falling into deep despair.
There are days I feel I’ve done everything wrong, perhaps being too strict and strident when a softer touch was obviously needed.
But as is true with everything in life, there is no perfect path.
There is no perfect kid.
And there is definitely no perfect mother.
I look at my very tall baby boy and see such of mix of his father and myself. He’s got my big brown eyes but his father’s thick hair. He’s funnier than I will ever be. He’s inherited both of his parents’ famed stubbornness but has more patience than either of us combined.
And the kindness he carries with him every day?
That’s 100% him.
The years ahead will be telling. I pray every night that he makes good decisions, aligns himself with good kids, and works to be the best version of himself possible.
I once tended to Danny 24 hours a day. Now my main role is yelling at him to put down Fortnite.
So much of this is out of my hands.
So I am forced to trust in the hands above and the ones that still hug me goodnight.
And for that, I am so grateful.