I have never felt so old in my whole life. Considering I’m a minute older than I was a minute ago, that makes perfect sense. But figuratively speaking, I’m pretty sure I’m now looking at the crest of the hill from the other side.

Our youngest is now, officially, irreversibly…a teenager. Yuppers. Today Little John-John, who prefers to be called JJ or “just plain John”, turned 13. The trauma has been nearly too much for this mommy heart to bear. My Baby Boy is now one of those hooligans who expect special privileges like staying up later than me, hanging out with his friends instead of his parents, and choosing his own outfits…err…hoodies and Tony Hawks. My goodness, this is miserable. My youngest is a teenager.

I swear I’ve turned crotchety and forgetful overnight. Why, just yesterday, I was leaping effortlessly over piles of toys on the living room floor, scooping up a load of laundry in one arm, a passle of cleaning supplies in the other and skipping lightly up the stairway. I could put in a 16-hour day without batting an eyelash and keep a mile-long list of details in my head all at once. I could stir the pot on the stove, plunk out an article on the computer, and mop the kitchen floor all at the same time. Not any more. Now I’m lucky if I can get the bed made and supper on the table – if I remember to retrieve the meat from the freezer and leave it out to thaw, that is. My youngest is a teenager.

Today begins the process of my getting dumber and John-John…uh…JJ getting smarter – at least until he’s about 22, when I’ll start to get smarter again. By 24, I’ll be downright intelligent. For now, I get to find out about everything I don’t know but he wishes I did. Hugs and kisses in public won’t be cool anymore, although they might be tolerated in private. On occasion. If I’m not too mushy about it. I’ve got nine years ahead of eye rolling, head shaking, awkward silences and differing opinions. My youngest is a teenager.

Today I stopped being the final authority on everything. Indeed, I’ll probably not be the final authority on anything – unless it involves withholding car keys and banning cell phones. Instead, I’ll be one voice among many, some good and some not so good. My youngest is a teenager.

On the other hand, when the calendar page turned over, I was given the honor and awe of watching a boy begin the process of changing into a man. I was given license for exciting discussions and a new view of the world around me through his eyes. I was given the propensity for deeper humility as I realize that sometimes I really will be the dumber one. I was given the opportunity to observe as he prepares to take life’s challenges head-on, developing new facets of himself and discovering strengths and abilities he never knew he had. I was given the daunting responsibility of offering to the Church the gift of a faith-filled, well-formed and spiritually mature Catholic Christian, and then stepping back so that he can fulfill his God-given vocation and mission, whatever that will be. Today I was given the command to start the process of letting go. My youngest is a teenager.

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