an adult.

heart bokeh from gloeckchen. This was a really hard shot to set up. I need more practice.

Really? Weren’t we just out at the swing set as he begged to be pushed faster and higher? Wasn’t he practicing his lines for the first grade play just last week? What about the hours and hours we spent sieging the Playmobil castle?

But he is an adult. Really.

He’s gainfully employed at the car wash, his room and laundry are cleaned without a word from me, he both arranges his viola lessons and does all his practicing, his schoolwork and lunches are his own.

And most of all, wiser than I was, he acknowledges that he still needs help. Ben reminds me firmly and often that he still needs me. He needs me to stay engaged and interested and available. He’s witnessed every stage of my evolution as a parent– he made me a parent– and he recognizes my ebb and flow of energy, my tendency to become distracted by passions and projects. It’s a constant refrain, “We need you Mom.” “Pay attention, Mom.” “Teach Gabe and Mary, the same things you taught me.”

The oldest child defines a family in many ways and I find it especially sweet that Ben was born on Valentine’s Day– he set a precedent for kindness and openly expressed love. There could be no better birthday than Valentine’s for a child. It’s not such a big holiday, like Christmas, that you are overlooked. A Valentine’s birthday means a party at school on your birthday, sweets and a decorated aisle at every store. Even this year, as a senior, Ben received a stack of Val-o-grams because everyone remembers his unusual birthday. He embraces the love with an assortment of heart shaped everything; you can catch him wearing cupid and heart adorned boxers year round.

We celebrated his birthday with an excess of chocolate and candy and our nearly-perfected butterdream cookies. Cruising the neighborhood, we doorbell ditched two dozen houses as we spread the love. Poor Ben, ended up on the couch with a case of strep throat.

It is a bittersweet birthday. How can I feel anything but proud of my boy? But how heartbreaking that my time with him, as a child at home, is almost over.

Happily, he’ll always need me. At least a little.

February 11, 2010
February 18, 2010



  1. Selwyn

    February 17, 2010

    Aw, that’s sweet as!

    Love to you all =)

  2. Blue

    February 17, 2010

    my nephew just let us know which college he is attending as a freshman this fall…and i’m having one of those “ALREADY?!” moments. because wasn’t it just like six months ago that i would “borrow” him and walk around campus, a college student myself, and when people would stop and say “your baby is SO CUTE!” i wouldn’t necessarily correct their false assumption that he was mine. and now he’s leaving home. he’s about to be a freshman in college, just like i was when i met doc. if it’s already time for my darling nephew, and your priceless ben, i KNOW it’s going to feel like about three hours from now that i’m left all alone at home. which makes me so sad.

    but i’m happy for them. and they’re both great young men. this time must be like when you’re an 11.5 yr old primary kid…you just are SO over primary. SO ready for the next step.

    is this the end of cake season for you? i think we need to go to lunch sometime in March when my life settles a bit. ♥

  3. Kate

    February 17, 2010

    You brought tears to my eyes~ 18! Wow! I dread the day that another women takes over my #1 position in my boys’ lives!! But it is true, we will always be their mothers! Ohhh… how I love boys!

  4. Jeanelle

    February 17, 2010

    That valentine made me weep…what a wonderful son! Happy birthday, Ben.

  5. Kerri

    February 17, 2010

    The heart bokeh is so fun, and the portrait is lovely. And I’ve always hated “I’ll Love You Forever,” but Ben’s Valentine is so sweet I may have to change my mind. Maybe.

  6. Jess

    February 17, 2010

    Where do I even begin? This was so sweet and, mercy me, that first picture is perfection. He is so incredibly handsome!

    Love you, Michelle! You inspire me!

  7. Christie

    February 17, 2010

    Would that my boys both grow up to be as handsome, charming, and good as yours is. Well done, mama.

  8. Claudia

    February 17, 2010

    What a fabulous picture of a studly young man. I love the music peeking through and the way he’s holding his viola. Most of all, I love that sweet smile and look on his face. What’s there not to be proud of.

    Happy Birthday Ben! Hope your feeling better soon.

  9. Sue

    February 17, 2010

    Oh, that card! I love that he was willing to quote a children’s book. You’re right. His birthday was meant to be February 14th. No doubt about it.


  10. Mathmom and family

    February 17, 2010

    You have raised a wonderful man. Be proud of your accomplishments in Ben as he is proud of you as a mother.

    And to think that I was weepy yesterday when Morgan got his first piece of college recruitment mail! You are making me think of all the things I want to experience with him and teach him before he turns 18. I don’t have much time left, and I hope I do a good job. Thank you so much for inspiring me to be the best mom I can.

  11. jenjamin

    February 18, 2010

    OH my what a fun blog to stumble across! I have 4 boys and a crazy little girl! Maybe if I am lucky we will get one more 🙂 I found you through Michelle Linford. I am writing for her on MW site and with the MGF. Anyway, beautiful blog and photos and gorgeous family!

  12. Tracy

    February 18, 2010

    Just lovely. Happy Birthday Ben!

  13. Ken

    February 18, 2010

    Happy Birthday Ben!
    I am thrilled to know you will be attending Brigham Young University!
    I admire you and love you,
    Grandpa Ken

  14. Travelin'Oma

    February 18, 2010

    You’ve raised this boy right. He radiates character and depth and talent and goodness. You’re right that things will change as he moves on, but I actually think parenthood continues to have awesome rewards. I absolutely adore and enjoy my kids, and even though I worry and pray and even counsel if I’m given the chance, I love the feeling of knowing they’re ready to handle their lives. It’s amazing to see them fly once I stop holding them down.

  15. Emiline

    February 18, 2010

    Those are amazing pictures!

    ~ Emily


  16. Annie

    February 18, 2010

    Happy birthday Ben! I keep having these sunrise/sunset moments, too. And even though I know it’s how it’s supposed to work, it still (some moments) breaks my heart.

    But, on another topic, I think you need a yearly February nanny and I would like to apply for the job. It could be a nice trade-off: I could help with all of the parties and you could let me eat and bask in the valentiney glow.

  17. crissy

    February 18, 2010

    That last picture brought me to tears. I only hope I can raise my children to be so thoughtful and loving.

  18. Linn

    February 19, 2010

    Oh my word, I am crying over that last photo (love that book). What an amazing boy. He has no idea how much our little family looks up to him.

  19. Michelle

    February 20, 2010

    tearing up. beautiful.

Comments are closed.