Shop the fall collection ➔

I look at you, son, standing eye to eye, and I want to say I can’t believe you’re turning 13 . . . but I can.

You blew out your candles last night, turned around, hoisted me into the air in front of everyone, and high-fived me.

You passed me this year, just slightly taller. We grin and laugh about it, but in my heart I think, I’m so glad you’re growing kind, too. That you use your strength to lift heavy boxes and to carry your baby sister.

Your blonde hair, dirtier now than the white-gold I remember, is waving and curling around your ears.

I see your bald head as a baby and tears trickle down my cheeks as I giggle and remember how I waited two years for your hair to grow. When it did, I didn’t want to cut a single one of those dancing curls. I still have some of them in a plastic bag tucked in a box in the attic.

But it’s your smile that catches me, your wide grin stretching across your face, and your curls are like rays of sunshine beaming from that smile. I hear your bubbling giggle as you belly laugh at your own silliness and invite us to laugh with you, the 2-year-old boy in his pajamas bobbing his head as he dances through the white farmhouse where we used to live.

“Mommy, will you play with me?” You asked repeatedly as I attempted to wash dishes or make dinner, and I recall that voice in my head reminding me that, “The days are long, but the years are short.” I’m so glad I said yes so many times, even for 15 minutes, to play with you and your John Deere “dadoos” (tractors) or Fisher Price parking garage. We would go outside and you would run your Matchbox cars over the mountain of a dirt pile leftover from a house project.

You never wanted to sit still unless it was to listen to a story, so we read lots of books by Richard Scarry and Go, Dog, Go and Goodnight Gorilla and More, More, More Said the Baby because I wanted to cuddle you as close as I could for as long as you’d let me.

Those were the days when I could keep up with each new vocabulary word, the brief window of time before the flood of language enveloped you and carried you down rivers to oceans of words and concepts and comprehension of meanings of things. I could barely keep up, and then I lost my grip in that flood. I used to know every new book, each new show, and then you began reading and watching without me and your world expanded to realms beyond what I could experience with you.

When your brother was born, I didn’t know how my love could multiply to embrace both of you. The older and wiser moms kept telling me it would. What I latched on to was the idea that you and your brother were gifts to each other, and oh how you are! Your strengths and weaknesses balance one another and you stretch each other. You think in tandem. You brainstorm and build and run together. Your bond of brotherhood runs so deep.

Now I can’t pretend to keep up with your ideas and theories, “what ifs” and “have you ever” thoughts, but I can see the worlds you create as you put your pencil to paper and unleash your imagination through art. You give me a window into the breadth of your mind that races so much faster than mine.

RELATED: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, it’s Time To Say Goodbye

As my mommy-brain grasps for memories to hold onto, seeks to go back and retrieve moments, I’m surprised by the mundane. Those routines, the repetition, was for me as well as for you.

All those onesies I washed and folded and placed in your closet before you were born, the kisses good-night and bedtime stories, the countless walks to the park (pushes on the swing and slides down the sliding board), the jogs in the jogging stroller and the rides in the red wagon, those sunlit afternoons in the dirt pile and the birthday cakes we made together—those were all for both of us. For me and you. Together.

Those moments, somehow simultaneously so short and so long, are gifts. Together they make up memories. But even more, it’s in those moments that you became the young man I see standing before me today. And I feel so privileged and blessed to walk this journey with you.

Thank you, son. You are a gift.

You may also like:

When Your Little Boys Aren’t Little Anymore, This is What You Can Look Forward To

When He’s 13

When Your Daughter Turns 13

Katie Faris

Katie Faris is married to Scott, and her greatest works in progress are their five children ages 2 to 13. She is the author of Loving My Children: Embracing Biblical Motherhood. You can read more of Katie’s words on her blog.

When You’re a Mom of Teens, You Never Pass up a Chance to Spend Time with Them

In: Motherhood, Teen
Football field

When your kids are little, nothing rings more true than the saying that the days are long but the years are short. You know the time is fleeting even as you struggle through some days that feel never-ending. As your kids begin to grow though, their (and your) days become filled with school, homework, sports, clubs, and friends, and suddenly the days start to fly by as well. RELATED: No One Told Me I’d Feel This Way When They Were Teenagers The irony of time in parenting is that the moment you become most acutely aware of how fleeting it...

Keep Reading

You’re Halfway Done With High School and I’m Trying Not To Blink

In: Motherhood, Teen
High school student looking back

It sounds trite to say it, but I am not sure how we got here.   It seems so short and yet so long ago that you started kindergarten, that first step into the outside world. I remember what a huge milestone it seemed at the time and how I obsessed over every detail, from your first backpack to your school shoes. You loved everything about school, and so I loved it too. Those first couple of school years were so sweet and simple, and their passing didn’t bother me. The middle years—3rd, 4th, and 5th grades—were so fun.  We were...

Keep Reading

I’m a Mom of a Teenager Now and Disney’s Inside Out 2 May Do Me In

In: News, Teen
Inside Out movie

I’m not much of a crier at movies. but Disney is responsible for three legitimate bouts of tears in recent years:  The montage of Carl and Ellie’s life in Up.  The scene in Toy Story 3 where Andy gives his toys to Bonnie and drives away.  Bing Bong’s voice trailing off as he disappears, saying “Take her to the moon for me” in Inside Out. It looks like that third one may get an encore soon—Disney just confirmed Inside Out 2 is officially a go.  The first Inside Out took us inside Riley’s 11-year-old mind, into that tween transition between...

Keep Reading

Dear Teenage Self: Hold On, Better Days Are Coming

In: Teen
Teen black and white profile

Trigger warning: abuse and self-harm mentioned. Dear sweet girl,  I know you don’t want to be seen but I see you. I know you use alcohol, cigarettes, cutting, and weed to numb your pain. I know you think your relationships with men are consensual and you feel you need them because you are missing something. I know you’re being abused by a family member and you feel stuck because no one would take your side or believe you. I know you question how God could allow things to happen and convince yourself it’s your fault and you deserve it and...

Keep Reading

Dear Daughter, Here’s How You Avoid Middle School Drama

In: Teen, Tween
Middle school girls in hallway

“Mom, people keep telling me to be ready for the drama in middle school, and I don’t like it.” My 12-year-old daughter said this to me before she started middle school, and it made me smile. Her natural instinct is to run from drama. She is a lot like me in that she wants people to be happy and for there to be zero awkwardness surrounding her. After quickly pondering her statement, I reminded her that she chooses to join the drama or stay out of it, just as she always has. She gets to choose who her friends are....

Keep Reading

Cereal Is a Food Group, and Other Things I’ve Learned While Parenting Teens

In: Motherhood, Teen
two teen girls sitting together

In honor of a new school year, here are things I’ve learned while parenting teens: Do not wear dry cleaning to sporting events. Teen girls get a bad rap. They are ravenous. Prepare your pantry accordingly. RELATED: I Talk to Your Teens All Day: Here’s What You Can Do Better Pregame rituals include music that is trash. Learn to enjoy it. Teens need mental health days, too. Let them sleep. Let them eat. Let them play. Grades are indicators—a means to an end and not an end unto themselves. Do. Not. Die. on this hill, friends. Be a safe space...

Keep Reading

When There Are No More Little Girls’ Clothes

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Girl in dress by window

It hit me with a poignancy I didn’t expect, as a milestone I never prepared myself for. At 13 years old, my second daughter had officially outgrown even the largest sizes of children’s clothing, and my years of shopping in the little girls’ section were over. For nearly 16 years, from the time my older daughter was born, I had been shopping for little girls’ clothes. She had barely drawn her first breath when my older sister and mother rushed down to Gymboree at the mall, thrilled with the possibilities of adorable outfits for this tiny princess. Over the next...

Keep Reading

That’s My Baby behind the Wheel—Please Be Kind

In: Motherhood, Teen
Teen driver smiling

My 14-year-old daughter studied the rules of the road religiously this summer, completed dozens of practice tests online, and passed the written exam at the DMV a few weeks ago. But she’s a brand new driver and she’s still learning—so please be patient. You see, just yesterday she was 7 pounds, 12 ounces of helpless squish, swaddled safely in my arms. Then I blinked and she’s an almost-woman driving 3,500 pounds of metal, completely out of my reach. RELATED: Dear Teen Driver, Promise Me These 3 Things You’ve seen someone like her out on the road recently, I bet. Her...

Keep Reading

No One Told Me I’d Feel This Way When They Were Teenagers

In: Motherhood, Teen
Teenagers sitting with phones

I stand in the kitchen with plates of pancakes, bacon, and eggs. An hour ago I knocked on bedroom doors to announce I was making breakfast. “Okay,” came three sleepy replies.  A half hour ago I yelled upstairs to announce it was all ready.  Now I am texting pictures of breakfast, which is now lunch, to their cell phones, which they look at with blurry, sleep-filled eyes.  It will be another half hour before anyone comes down to the kitchen. By then it is cold. Or mostly eaten by their pre-teen brother. Or the dogs. Or put down the garbage...

Keep Reading

To the Mom of Teens: One Day They’ll Come Back To You

In: Motherhood, Teen
Teen girl walking away with long hair

Mamas of teenagers: you’ll be “cool” again soon, I promise. To young children, it doesn’t get cooler than your mom. She takes you neat places, makes you all your favorite foods, and is your favorite person in the whole world. My mom has always been my safe landing space and I’ve always loved her more than words can explain, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t remember what I was like as a teenager. Moody, a little self-centered (OK, a lot),  and my mom was definitely not someone I wanted to hang out with all the time. I’m...

Keep Reading