The Best Pumpkin, Just In Time to Celebrate

I was sitting in my room when Zac, my 12-almost-13 year old, walks into the room.  He’s holding his carved pumpkin, “Look, Mom!” My heart dropped a little. It was a perfect representation of him, a Nike Swoosh. But he carved it.
By himself.
Without me there to take pictures.
Without his siblings.
The freight train kept rolling over my heart, “No, I don’t want to go to the Trunk or Treat.” And then, “I’ll probably stay home and pass out candy.”
Just in case you didn’t know, the sound of a freight train and the sound of my heartbreaking are the same.
He’s not a baby anymore, which I’ve known. Zac may be 12-almost-13 and the youngest of 5, but he is 6’2 and wears a size 14 1/2 shoe. He’s growing out of 2XL shirts and eats more than your entire household. But he’s my baby. He’s growing and grown and I’m not ready.
But I guess we never are.
I know that he won’t need me less, just differently. I’m convinced, after keeping alive babies and toddlers, and making it through PTA performances, and parent teacher conferences and failed State tests, that parenting teenagers and young adults is harder. At some point, between pampers and pacifiers, our kids develop thoughts and opinions and strong-wills. They have the ability to make their own choices, often despite our pleadings and wisdom– often in spite of us. They do things we don’t agree with, and they do things without us, like carve pumpkins.
I think I’m in a place where I realize the first part of my kids life, the making memories at the pumpkin patch, and the picking out costumes, and watching movies together, and going to breakfast, all of it is simply building trust and earning the right to speak into their lives in the second part, and hopefully the third and fourth. So when he proudly showed me his pumpkin I didn’t fuss at him, or guilt him because I wasn’t there. I told him it was the greatest Nike Swoosh I’ve ever seen. I told him where to find the candles and I put it front in center on the front porch.
Perhaps, just maybe, I might ask him later, if he wants to carve another one. Because, well, maybe I need just one more year.

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