Guest post by Happy Mama Retreat 2016 sponsor, Leslie Josel, Principal, Order Out of Chaos
My son turns 18 today. Eighteen! Do you mind if I just take a second to process that? Now, I’ve been through the whole “my-child-is-turning-18” thing when my lovely daughter did so four years ago. But there is something about Eli turning 18 that hits me in my core so deeply that when I truly think about it I can’t breathe.
Since Eli is my youngest, I know his birthdays mark me in time. But that isn’t it. I also know that I might hear the “I’m 18 and I can do what I want” mantra. Doubtful. Truthfully, as long as my husband and I are “paying his way” that doesn’t really hold true.
If I am really honest with myself it’s that I never allowed myself to “see” what 18 would look like on him: Who Eli would be; what our lives would be like. And I am sure many of you can relate. All through Eli’s early years it was enough just to make it to the next minute, hour or day; projecting to the next ten years was a luxury I didn’t really afford myself.
I had very small goals ten years ago. Tiny. “Let’s see if Eli can get dressed for school this morning without my husband having to sit on him to do so.” “What are the odds that Eli will make it through a birthday party, karate lesson, trip to the supermarket without demanding we leave within 5 minutes of arriving?” “How many minutes of peace will I have before Eli starts yelling at me that he doesn’t want to…”? And on it went. Sound familiar? Now not every day was like that. But many were and many were rough. Really rough. But I don’t have to go there. You get it.
So how the heck did we get here? It feels like I turned my back for one second and when I turned back found this tall, handsome, kind, quirky, happy, talented love of a son staring down at me. The son who would scream for hours now uses that voice to act in a Shakespeare troupe at school. The son who impulsively ran across the street without looking where he was going is now a cautious and responsible driver. And the child who was told by his elementary school in 3rd grade that they couldn’t “educate” him and would need to go elsewhere has become a second semester senior who will be attending college in the Northeast this fall. It’s all a bit much.
Truth be told, even during all of the tough times, we always saw glimmers of the young man Eli might become. My husband often said, “If we can just freeze dry him and wake him up when he’s eighteen things will be different.” While I may have thought that was wishful thinking, deep down I was hoping he was right.
But beyond the hope, there was something actually happening that I was certain about. My son worked hard to get here. Heck, my whole family did along side him. But we didn’t do it alone. There were teachers, guidance counselors, therapists, camp counselors, family, friends, theater coaches, one tough fencing instructor, one even tougher driving instructor and countless other mentors along the way. We called it Team Eli. And still do. People that believed in my son, his strengths, his gifts and most important, his purpose. And that allowed Eli to believe in himself.
So happy birthday my Eli. We can’t wait to see where the next ten years will lead you.
Leslie Josel, Principal, Order Out of Chaos