We make a big deal out of the 16th birthday.
I guess it sort of marks a right of passage by getting your license but in all honesty -
17 trumps 16.
In a big way.
I'm not sure why all the attention falls onto turning 16.
I am away on vacation this week with my family.
My oldest son is turning 17 tomorrow.
How can that be?
How can it be that I have a 17 year old son when I am still wounded and recovering from my own traumatic 17th year?
I was sitting on the beach thinking yesterday afternoon...
Seventeen means I have one year left that I have some say in his life before the words,
"I am 18. I can do what I want."
I dread those words.
I said those words.
We say them because they are true.
They. Are. True.
So I have one year left.
One year left to make a difference before he can say those words to me...
One more year left for me to squeeze some of my words of wisdom between his ears.
It really got me thinking.
Knowing I have this last year to make an impact -
How shall I make it?
What are the things that I really need to pass along?
If I had to make a list, what would they be?
But in all honesty, haven't I really already taught the important things?
I've said all of the important things.
I've demonstrated all that I can.
Do your best.
Life isn't fair.
Family is everything.
Are we not at a place in life where it isn't about anything more that I can teach him?
Isn't it more about what he is going to teach me now?
Like how to be a Mom that can let go a bit more.
Give him a chance to have the final say.
Begin to let him lead the way.
We have begun our college visit palooza.
We visited his first choice last week.
Now the next couple of weeks are spent visiting the others that I threw into the mix just to give some perspective.
But he already knows.
He has already made up his mind.
But he will go look at the others because he is 17 and I can still say he has to.
Last week as we walked across the campus, I could not believe that I was standing there with my own child.
I remembered when I myself attended that college on a weekend visit at his age.
With my friends.
My friends who went on to attend that school.
My friend whose little brother is now a professor at that college.
As I sat with my son and the admissions counselor - it felt surreal.
I heard the words being talked about.
I looked at my son and could not even begin to fathom that he would begin that journey.
That our time was almost up.
Then I thought back to one year ago - when he turned 16.
When the guidance counselors talked about SATs and college visits.
I remember when he asked me if he HAD to go away to a four year school after graduation...
...could he just stay at home and go to community college?
...would I be disappointed in him?
I assured him that would be fine.
He was only 16.
And I even worried that perhaps he wasn't ready.
In a year?
He is ready to go.
He is ready to leave.
That fear is gone.
So I'm thinking that the coming year of 17 to 18 is really more for me.
More for me to do what I need to do to get ready.
For me to be ready for him to be ready to go.
I'd better get busy.
I've got one year to learn an awful alot.