“Mom, I’m not going trick-or-treating this year, so I won’t need a Halloween costume,” my 12-year-old said to me last week.
When I asked why he wouldn’t be trick-or-treating, he made it clear he was simply too old and his friends wouldn’t be going, either. No amount of coercion from his Halloween-loving mom or bribes of pillowcases filled with candy would change his mind.
It was in that moment I realized he was no longer the colicky infant I would walk up and down the hallway for hours at a time to try to put to sleep, or the mischievous toddler who would rollerblade through the house in full hockey gear, or even the elementary school kid who would build full dinosaur habitats in the living room.
He was none of these things anymore and it wasn’t when he shot up five inches last year and reached a solid 5’9”, or needed a new pair of size 13 sneakers, or when his voice began to crack, or even when he started calling his friends behind closed doors to talk on the phone at night that made me realize it.
It was the moment he stopped wanting to dress up and pretend to be his favorite superhero on Halloween I had to wake up and acknowledge that this was it—he was growing up and there was nothing I could do about it.
It’s only been a few days since he told me he was no longer participating in my favorite holiday, but now that my eyes are open to the many changes happening within him, I am starting to see all the other clues I missed. He didn’t want to go to the movies with his papa last week because he was going to the high school football game with friends. He skipped out on his little sister’s soccer game so he could play videos games. He asked for money last week so he and some kids from school could go to the local pizza shop for lunch.
Although my mind knows there is nothing I can do to slow him down, my heart is begging him to hold out for just a little while longer.
RELATED: “Your Son Growing Up Will Feel Like the Slowest Breakup You’ve Ever Known” Aches in Every Mother’s Heart
I’m not ready to give up the little boy who would come to me for comfort when the kids on the playground teased him, but I know I have raised a soon-to-be teenager who won’t hesitate to stand up to those same bullies now.
I will forever miss the days of watching him put everything he had into learning to ice skate and getting back up, no matter how many times he fell. Instead, I will be cheering from the stands as he skates his heart out and I will find my own comfort in knowing he loves every second he spends in those ice rinks with his teammates. I will give that knowing smile to all the other parents who see what I do: young men who have found their passion and their best friends out on the ice.
Although I will always miss the days when I was his best friend and the most important person in his life, I am truly relieved when I see the kind, funny, independent man he is becoming, and know I am lucky to be a part of his adventure.
I may not be able to talk him into wearing his favorite superhero costume for Halloween this year, but I will take full advantage of his new love for horror movies . . . and maybe next year I can persuade him to be a hockey player for Halloween.
In the meantime, my daughter suggested I buy the dog a costume this year.