I’m Here


Dear Evan on Your First Day of 8th Grade,

You just disappeared around the corner en route to the bus, and I’m swiping through 14 pictures of your back.

After the obligatory first-day photo featuring a stilted smile (no, approval is not required before posting, as first-day-of-anything pics fall under the Mother Override Exemption), and suddenly lanky teenage arms dangling down from backpack straps (be glad I didn’t write your grade on a chalkboard), off you went.

As you turned down the driveway, I couldn’t stop snapping pictures of your back.

Sure, part of me wanted to stay with you as long as I could. Especially since I’m no longer allowed anywhere near the bus stop.

And it’s not unusual, that take-a-picture-from-behind shot, right? Whether someone’s wandering through the woods or running toward the water or traipsing down the driveway, we all want to capture the person, rather than the pose.

But this was different.

It’s been a challenging summer.

Since you and I have always been able to talk through frustrating feelings, I thought we would somehow steer around the stereotypical parent-teen crash scene of strong emotions and stubborn conflict.

But instead, we’ve driven right into it, with intense arguments and exasperated sighs. Yours and mine.

Of course, every decision you question and every limit you test is all part of your pubescent spirit pushing through. And even though I miss the days when you thought I could do no wrong, I admire your tenacity in testing every morsel that comes out of my mouth against your sharpening sense of logic that will obviously one day lead to a state-of-the-art scientific discovery.

See, what I want you to know is this: Even when you think I’ve turned away, I’m here.

Even during your most adamant refusal and your most exasperated sigh, I welcome your adolescent spirit into this space with the same mother-lion ferocity with which I first welcomed you into the world.

I will continue to set boundaries and you will continue to challenge them and my hope is that through some of our most trying moments will come some of our closest connections.

Because during our deepest disagreements, I still respect your spirit and am holding safe space for its emergence. My goal heading into this new school year is to let you know that when it counts.

Even when you think I’ve turned away, I’m here.

As you made your way down the driveway, I could see you walking taller and more confidently than in years past. Wanting more independence while arguing against more responsibility is, I suppose, all part of growth.

And growth is messy. But I’ve got your back.

Fourteen pictures of it.

Love Always,