To My Son, Who is Turning Thirteen

Here we are, on the verge of big, bad teenagerdom.

I’m not going to lie, I’m scared. Not all the time, and not even about the big, bad things, but nevertheless, she persisted worrying. Have I done enough? Have I reminded you to please and thank you enough? Taught you how to tell a joke or to always deal cards to the left? Have I given you the confidence to do the right thing, even when the right thing isn’t the easy thing?

Most of the time I worry because I feel like I’m running out of time.

There are days when it seems you’ve already got one foot out of the door. I have to remind myself you’ve always had one foot out of the door, from the moment you were born. You were never mine, not really. You’ve always been your own. The universe merely placed you in my care for this dance, to make sure when you’re ready, you step through with both feet, confident and secure.

But that door? It will always open to you.

When you were an infant, swaddled like a baby burrito, you’d look up at me and I felt a million things surge through my blood all at once, like wildfire raging through my veins. Thirteen years later your eyes are nearly level with my own, but my blood still sings that same fiery song.

Those times you think I’m staring at you, looking for something to criticize? I’m really looking to see if the angle of your jaw has sharpened between dinner and breakfast.

When you catch me standing outside your door, it’s not to simply to tell you to pick your clothes up off the floor, it’s also to hear if the timber of your voice has begun to deepen.

I’m terrified I’m going to miss something, afraid one day I’ll look at you and that tiny boy, the one we fought so hard to bring into the world, is going to be impossible to recognize in the face and body of the young man you’re becoming.

In case I don’t tell you enough, I am proud of you, the way you treat everyone with kindness, the ease with which you saunter through life, your even-temper. Do you remember the night we sat around the dinner table and asked, who is the least likely to lose their temper? Without hesitation, we all pointed to you.

Keep your even temper. It will be your greatest gift in life, the ability to take a situation and diffuse it, to find the funny, or the good, the silver lining.

You are so unbelievably fortunate. You have so much opportunity at times it’s almost embarrassing. Use it. Use it to speak out for those who have less. Don’t ever take it for granted or feel like the world owes you more than what you’ve already been bestowed, because those invisible gifts you’ve been born into–the color of your skin, your sex, the opportunities we’ve been able to give to you? Those things are not due to you. You do not deserve them more than someone else. So use them. Stand up for those who walk through life with less ease, with less opportunity, with less help. Be aware of your privileges and of how you can use them for good.

Find something you want to be great at. It doesn’t matter if you are great at it, but it’s important to have something to work at, to dream about. Don’t take the easy way out. Get better. Be better.

Take time to settle into your mold. You don’t have to know who you are or what you want to do with your life. You just need to live your best life. Not everyday, no one lives their best life everyday. If someone tells you that, ignore them. If you’re batting one for ten you’re doing ok. Some days life hurts. Some days it’s tough. Some days it sucks donkey balls. It will get better. Don’t think it won’t get better.

No matter how many eye-rolls or ‘whatever’s, how many door slams or a thousand other stereotypes I’m remembering from The Breakfast Club and my own teenage years, we will be here. Sometimes you’ll feel like you don’t need us. That’s good. That means we’ve done our job. We’ll be here anyway.

You’re going to think we’re dumb and out of touch. You’re going to think you know better. You’re going to think every sneaky trick you come up with to fool us hasn’t been tried before. You’re wrong on all counts.

You won’t believe me. I know. I didn’t either.

We’re going to argue. I’m going to be wrong. You’re going to be wrong. If it’s truly important, stand up for yourself. But choose your hills wisely. Make sure it’s a hill you’re willing to die on before you dig in.

I’m going to embarrass you. Mostly accidentally but sometimes on purpose.

You’ll want to do things we don’t think you’re ready for. Sometimes we’ll screw it up. Sometimes we’ll make shitty decisions. But even when we do, try to remember it’s coming from a place of love. You won’t believe that either, but it’s true.

The world is out there waiting. There’s a lot of shit going down, a lot of bad stuff. But so much good stuff too. Don’t let the scary stuff stop you from experiencing the good. Don’t let the good stuff stop you from trying to change the bad.

Don’t let anyone else define you. If someone tells you that you have to be or do something? If they want to change you or set conditions on their love for you? Run the other way. Fast.

Life is going to hurt. Life is going to sing. It’s going to flutter and fly and sink and sometimes you’ll feel like you are drowning in your own breath. That is life. All of it put together is what makes it worth living.

Most of all I want you to know it will never be you vs. the world. We are tied together, you and me. For nine months your heartbeat tangled with mine until it was hard to tell where one stopped and the other began. Yours dances to a different tempo now, but mine? Mine will always skip a beat here and there, making sure there is a space for yours to return to when you need it.


17 Comments Add yours

  1. Alice says:

    You beautiful human.

    Also, your artwork choices are delightful! #pulsatingcagesofhorror

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dina Honour says:

      I think ‘pulsating cages of horror in a sadistic experiment’ could well describe social media–so this one is doubly apt!!


  2. skaymac says:

    Wow, Dina! I haven’t seen my boys since January and I miss them terribly. This column is one that I could have written more than 15 years ago. I’m heading to the U.S. next week to be with my parents and both my boys are flying in to be with us. I’m beyond excited to see them. I can’t wait to get mom hugs and to give mom hugs. My boys are 28 and 30 and the time has flown by. But I sent them into the world as the men I hoped they would be. They are kind and caring. They have shown me time and again that they are the good we need in the world. Your son will be fine since you are leading the way. You’ll lose him for a while during his mid-teens, but he’ll be back, and you’ll find you have a new, closer, and even stronger relationship. Don’t worry!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dina Honour says:

      OH, that just makes me happy. ALL of what you’ve written makes me happy. I hope you enjoy your trip, and your sons, and getting to play ‘Mom’ again while you’re with them. Enjoy!


  3. Superb. Got me right in the heart. Great piece.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dina Honour says:

      Thank you. There is something special about 13, isn’t there? It’s this powerful threshold. Like full march toward adulthood now. There’s no turning back.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you Dina (Mav) you have pinned down that mild sense of panic that I’ve been feeling ever since my man-boy turned 13, and voiced that fierce crazy love we feel for our sons. Here’s to them coming out on the other side, and coming back through that open door.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Joanne says:

    So gorgeous. So piercing. So wise.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dina Honour says:

      In between moments of frustration, occasionally I can catch a glimpse of wise. Not often. But I try to ride the waves when they come!


  6. RupLB says:

    Beautifully written Ms H.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Reflections says:

    So beautiful, words to remember and share with my son one day

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dina Honour says:

      Thank you! I think if I tried to do that, I’d get a massive eye-roll. But I let him know in other ways. In between the eye rolls ;-).


  8. 🙂 My son turns 29 this month. And I think all my feels I had are much like the feels you’re having. He was a prince, privileged beyond belief, and beyond “deserving.” And he has worked that out, and works hard, and treats people well. I couldn’t be more proud.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dina Honour says:

      And you should be proud! I look forward to the young man my son will grow into, but there are also times I just want to swaddle him back up and stick him where he’s safe, like I used to do. It’s both exhilarating and terrifying, this growing up business!


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