from almost three to almost thirteen.

Micah turns thirteen on Tuesday.

I can hardly believe the words as I say them but it’s true.

I can remember when he was almost three. That seemed big. This seems unreal.

I have all the normal thoughts and emotions that I imagine a woman who has mothered for thirteen years of her life would have – commiserating how quickly it has passed, wondering if the next thirteen years will fly just as fast, and knowing I’m not ready for this kid to get a driver’s permit in two years, graduate high school in five, and then leave his dad and I behind as he heads off into the big bad world alone.

I was thinking about Micah this morning. How surreal it is that one second I was spending long days changing diapers and sustaining him and the next minute here he stands, teetering on the knife edge between charming boyishness and handsome manhood. I truly can’t believe it and yet I must. While coming to grips this morning with my internal hopes that I could have been a better mom these past thirteen years (mom guilt is so lame, but it’s something I struggle with), I had a light bulb thought. “I don’t regret spending the last year and a half giving him more wholehearted attention because I wasn’t wasting time on social media.”

These little thoughts are important to me right now because, after a year and a half away from social media, I often think about what it would be like to go back, to “rejoin society” in the virtual rooms and halls it provides. Lately those thoughts have gotten more complicated. When it comes to linking arms with friends and learning from those activists in matters that I care deeply about, going back seems tempting. Then again, I have noticed the tendency in all people of social media to publicly support a cause with lip service on their Facebook walls but never actually let their feet hit the pavement to sacrifice their own time, money, and efforts to see those changes through. It’s easy to feel connected and active on those spaces but it seems fewer and fewer people actually connect or act. In the wake of a devastating election, I’ve heard from loved ones this past week of a gaping hole when it comes to a skill that many immersed in social media seem to be losing – empathy.

I have regrets when it comes to the past thirteen years. And most of those just have to do with the what-if’s I have let stew in my mind into a broth-rich soup. What if I could have spent more time with him one on one? What if I could have better managed the depression that my dad’s death brought on and been a more fun mommy during that time? What if I would have chosen a more mainstream career path so he could have gotten more involved in team sports and we would have spent weekends together? What if we would have saved money consistently every month since the month he was born for his college fund? What if, what if, what if???

I have questions and regrets – some that were within my control, some that weren’t. But I don’t regret the past year and half as much as I think I would have had I stayed on social media. I remember the over-zealous way I shared and interacted with those spaces, particularly Instagram, and it was not healthy. It took up so much mental real estate, keeping up with my agenda and the thoughts and visual lives of everyone I followed. It floated around in my brain even in the moments of quiet and connection with my family. Those monologues or dialogues were always rattling around in there.

After thirteen years of being a mom, It’s still so easy for me to get caught up in self-centeredness and completely forget that these kids I am raising actually need me. They need their dad and I to tell them what it means to be a good man, a kind man, a strong man who leads with humility and respect of others. They need to know that hygiene matters and that it’s not okay to go five days without a shower because then you smell like a rotting bag of onions. They need to know what empathy looks like in the first person, how to care for others, and how to help out after dinner by doing the dishes. They need to know that they are unconditionally loved and that there is nothing they could ever do or say to lose their place in our family or to lose our love and support. They need to know we aren’t perfect, that we make mistakes, that we have regrets, and the only hope we have is that we wake up tomorrow and find the grace of God flowing into and out of us like living water.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes but being on social media the past year and a half won’t be one of them. And I’m honestly really thankful for that. For now, the positives of making that decision still outweigh the negatives. Maybe that will change someday. Maybe I will change. But for now I just have way more important things to do. For now, I am planning on wrapping some presents for my smart, handsome, book-nerdy, loving, empathetic son, blowing up a bag of seventy-five balloons we bought, and spending his birthday and the days that follow it loving him, giving my life for his in a bunch of tiny unglamorous ways, and continuing to get to know this young man who lives in my house.

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hootenannie I couldn’t love anyone more. Micah man, you’re such a gift to our family and the world!

As are you, sister.November 14, 2016 – 11:34 am

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