Collier recently turned 13. Honestly, it’s hard to believe I’m old enough to be the mom of a teenager. There are times I still think of myself as a college freshman, pledging a sorority and attending mixers and formals. Then I turn my head too fast and have neck pain for three days and am reminded that I am, indeed, old enough to have a teenager.
The one gift that Collier really wanted for his 13th birthday was a cell phone. We had held off on the phone thing for several years. I would jokingly argue with him that since he was homeschooled he was always with me or his dad so he didn’t need a phone to let us know where he was. 😊 He was so excited to open that present (or as excited as he ever gets while opening presents), and we have started to work on phone skills, safety, and etiquette.
But probably the most special gift he has gotten for quite some time came from his great-aunt Lori. It was a grandfather clock that belonged to Collier’s great-grandfather. I can still remember the day that Papa bought it; he was so proud of it and it was probably one of his most favorite possessions. I wasn’t sure where we would be able to put it in our small house but when we put it in our entryway, the wall looked like it was made for it. Collier told me we could keep it there until he moved it to his own house.
When he was younger and talked about his future, it used to make me laugh. At one time he had decided he was going to live in a house in the city with a basement and that he would have two kids, a boy and a girl, named Tim and Juliess (nope, that’s not misspelled, kind of like Juliette but ~ess instead). I would chuckle and tell him that sounded great, but that his wife might like a little input on that.
Nowadays though, when he talks about the future, instead of laughing, I find it difficult to breathe. I want him to have the future he thinks he will, but I know the reality of the world, a reality I’m not sure he will ever understand. I know houses don’t cost $1,000 and people who read at a second-grade level don’t become scientists and that people who struggle with two or three-step directions could not handle being a chef.
As we enter the teenage years, the differences between him and his typical peers are so much more noticeable than they were before. I watch my friend’s kids growing up and getting involved in sports, extracurricular activities, starting to date, and even starting to get driving permits. And then I see my precious son watching Captain Underpants and Veggie Tales.
I’ve always told myself that we had time. Whenever a skill we were trying to learn was a struggle….we have time….he’s just eight, or nine, or ten….we have time….When we were teaching a concept and he just wasn’t getting it….we have time….we can just work a little harder and keep him up with his peers…..we have time…..
But lately I’ve realized that I don’t have enough time to keep him up with his peers. That there isn’t enough time in the day to teach him all the skills and knowledge that I think he needs to know at that point….and that that is completely okay. I’m slowly learning our timeline doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s. That our school day doesn’t have to look like yours. That progress, no matter how small or how long it takes, is still progress.
It’s been a very long process for me to get here, to put aside the idea that if we just work hard enough, we can get where I want us to go. Okay, if I’m being completely honest with you, I’m still working to get there. My head knows this is where I need to be, but my heart still betrays me sometimes. My heart still wants him to be able to play sports, and have normal conversations, and go on dates, and drive, and fall in love, and have children. My heart still wipes the tears off my keyboard.
But my heart also believes completely the words of Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” The future of our family is one that college freshman could never have imagined, but one that this old mom is eager to discover.
And if that grandfather clock never leaves my entryway? Well, I can’t think of a better way to pass our time as a family than to the ringing of Westminster chimes.