Today my son is 25. Alex is twenty-five! My baby, so grown up and definitely, not a baby anymore. That’s been true for a long time. But there’s something about the number that catches me, pulls a bit.
Maybe it’s the “quarter of a century” thing, or the fact that 25 year olds are considered by car insurance companies to be a lower risk to insure…or some other vague and hard-to-pinpoint marker of this year. Regardless of the reason, this seems like more than the ordinary birthday. It feels like a milestone.
We talk two or three times a week, and he sends me funny texts…usually something to do with bacon, or a YouTube link that will make me laugh. I send him books, sometimes by favorite authors we both enjoy, sometimes by someone I want him to come to know.
He tells me how his latest kitchen experiment turned out and sometimes asks for a recipe of a childhood treat.
He brags on his workouts, and gives me updates on his gaming status. I never can follow the video game storyline, but he shares it anyway.
He is a blend of Rob and me. I see pieces of us in him, apparent in his talents and his tastes. And his faults. I’m a loving mother, but I’m not blind.
But I think I see an amazing man emerging, leaving behind the last traces of boyhood. Five years in the army, right out of high school, and a young marriage that has already weathered significant separation by deployment, have fostered maturity. He bought a house, has purchased vehicles, navigated his way in, through, and out of the military, all with little to no help from us. He informs us, he asks our advice. But he has been largely independent. Like we raised him to be.
He’s strongly opinionated, and right or wrong, he has the courage of his convictions. A Gemini, he has the characteristic twin personality, and can move with lightening speed from joking and humor to the other half of himself, the old soul that has been part of his makeup since birth. He’s a tough, motorcycle-riding, battle-hardened veteran who loves dogs and can discuss CS Lewis and mythology with ease. He has soft spots in unexpected places. He has an old-fashioned sense of honor and a kid’s appreciation of animation and game-playing. He’s a clean cut guy who doesn’t look his age, but when I listen to him, I think he’s already older than twenty-five.
Sometimes I am exasperated. He can be stubborn, and sometimes his honesty could use a wee bit of diplomacy mixed in. He’s smart, but not a conventional student, and I worry that unless he decides for himself that there’s value in more education, his options will reflect the lack of higher degrees.
But I’m also proud. This boy has grown up to find his own way, and to stand on his own. He’s loyal to his friends and commitments. He keeps the family ties that bind. He keeps his truth, and his faith. He thinks for himself, like we raised him to do.
Happy birthday, Alex! Happy 25th!