Sunday, April 17, 2016

How to Celebrate a Child's 21st Birthday

As of 1:59 PM today, my child can buy their own alcohol. No need to lean against the outside wall of a liquor store and ask the person going in to pick up a 6-pack and no need to not get caught inside the beckoning restricted area of the beer tent at summer church festivals anymore.

If he wants a beer, he can get himself a beer.

But my speed isn't to enroll him in the beer of the month club, I may have been the one to coax that first bottle of milk to his lips, but I won't be the one to do the same with a bottle filled with beer. We can also count out a trip to Vegas so he turns 21 there, and the same for any plans for an epic drinking party for him and his friends on this milestone birthday. Not from this mama. What he'll get from me is his own independence with a generous Amazon gift card -- he can figure out how to party in his own way from there.

He is an adult now. And I'm thinking all sorts of strange things about that, that don't seem to fit in my life, like how he won't go to a pediatrician anymore and that, well, he is an adult.

I can't pry, I can't probe, as to how he is going to spend his birthday today. I've set guidelines for myself so that I can maneuver my way around asking him how he celebrated this 21st birthday away from us, I want him to hear my questions with the love in my voice and not the raised eyebrow of concern:

God as my witness, I will limit my 21st birthday actions to within these confines:

1.) I will wait until the next day to ask any questions. I will not text at midnight, "Hi Honey! You up? You alone? You OK? Did I ask you if you were alone?"

2.) I will not drive up to see him at college today just so I can secretly pin a note to the inside of his Patagonia fleece with the instructions IF FOUND PLEASE RETURN THIS CHILD TO

3.) I will not call and bribe his roommates to feed him greasy cheese curds to coat his stomach before he goes out to prevent any alcohol absorption by intestinal villi.

4.) When I do speak with him apres-21, it will be with keeping in mind who he is as my audience: an adult, and I will respect that.

Monday will be my first day as the mother of a grown person. I've never been that before and I've been thinking about that pretty much every 5 minutes. I realize I have to shift into this new relationship slowly. I keep going over into that I can't believe no pediatrician mode. Just as when he was first born, I've had no dress rehearsal, I am going to have to get familiar with my new role and that of his. We've got our next acts, with evolving scenes, and both of us will step around each other as we try out new pages of dialogue.

The curtain is rising on this first act. There is never a time to practice my lines or to memorize my moves. Stumbling sometimes and shining others, as when I was a first-time mother, I will come through these first frightening months of a new presence in my life.

For tomorrow, when I speak with him, I will edit and re-adjust for my new speaking parts. I'll ask him how 21 went:

You didn't do shots did you  How was your birthday?

You had cheese curds before you went out, right  Anything fun to eat last night?

No way you let someone drunk drive you around  So, here's an interesting ice breaker, say someone's drunk and they want to drive, what's your opinion on that?

Tell me you didn't walk home alone in the dark  Did you stay together with friends most of the night?

See? I can do this. I will talk to him and he will see that I respect the grown adult that he is. We can do this all by phone. No need to video, I mean - as if there's value in him seeing me chew my nails and pull on my hair until I look like Opera Man.

He'll be fine.

This grown son of mine will be fine.

Happy birthday (baby)! I love you, young man (baby)!

* * * 


  1. Congratulations. It goes by like a flash of light, doesn't it? You've got your talking points down. You've got this.

    P.S. thanks for the tip about the cheese curds. Who knew?

    1. It is A WHOLE HECK of a lot safer than drinking on an empty stomach!

  2. Treat yourself to a little something special as a happy 21st anniversary to you as a mom/mommy/momma/ma...whatever the situation called for! Much love!

  3. And you will be fine, too. :-) You got this.

  4. Oh, mama. I will be there faster than you can say cheese curds.
    Hope he had a wonderful day and I hope YOU are feeling proud.
    That's quite a man you raise, there.



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