I see you roll your eyes when I tell you for the one-thousandth time that the roads are probably a little slick this morning. Someday you will understand the fear that grips my heart every time you climb behind the wheel.

I see you bite your tongue when I remind you to have good manners and be respectful. I hope you see the pride in my eyes when we are told what a nice young man we’ve raised.

I hear you laughing in your room, which can only mean you’re on the phone with her again . . . still. Know that laugh still warms my heart even though it sounds so different from the one I used to be able to get out of you when you were tiny.

I see you shrug your shoulders when I ask what’s bugging you. Know that I’m always here but trying hard not to nag.

I see you struggling how to word a question to me that is going to get you the best possible outcome. Know that I want to say yes nine times out of 10. But sometimes I just can’t for a variety of reasons.

I see you get the grumpy face when your sisters are being high-maintenance or dramatic. I get it, but trust me that all of this experience with girls will come in handy someday.

Sixteen is freedom in your eyes. In some ways it is in mine, too. I don’t miss waiting 30 minutes past the time practice was supposed to have ended. I appreciate the rides given to your sisters when I need backup.

I see how hard you are trying to gain weight for football. Know that I will continue to buy every magical food you think you need. But also know that with your work ethic and passion you will always have a spot on that field.

I see how hard you are on yourself when you feel like you haven’t performed to your potential, whether it be work, school, or sports. Know that is how I know you are going to be amazing wherever life takes you.

I see the annoyance on your face when your dad and I decide maybe today would be a good day for a reminder about drinking, texting and driving, vaping, drugs, sex—whatever the lucky topic may be that day. We know you know. But it’s our job to be 100% sure we have covered everything.

I love the questions and opinions you bring to me about politics, religion, or any other hot topic. That’s how I know you’re exploring and engaged in the world around you. It’s how I know you’re looking for ways to defend your morals and beliefs. Nothing makes us prouder.

I see the sadness and frustration in your eyes when you feel left out. Know that your dad and I are proud of the decisions you have made so far.

I see the pressure you carry on your shoulders sometimes. I know we have high expectations. And I also know that some of it comes from being the oldest child. But know that we don’t expect perfection, I promise. And know that, like it or not, you get the brunt of our mistakes because you are the oldest.

I see the confusion when college comes up. Know that you don’t have to have it all figured out. The Lord will open the doors and guide your path. Just don’t forget to seek Him out.

Be patient with us as we learn to let go a little at a time. Keep giving your mom big bear hugs. Even though you are so much bigger than I am now, I still see the little boy with the tender heart and adventure in his eyes. I also see the man you are becoming with the kind heart and the work ethic that will make you successful in any adventure you seek.

Julie Saint

I am a wife, stay-at-home mother and aspiring writer. I would love to be able to reach other moms and famlies that are also in this stage of life. We have one boy and three girls. 16, 15, 12 and 11 years old.