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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Notes. 18 Years

My son and I attend Emperor's New Groove Premiere in 1998 in Hollywood.

My son turns 18 today. As much as it a huge milestone for him, as any parent knows, it is also a personal parental milestone and time of reflection. Having already gone through this with my daughter who is now an adult, this is really something for me. Our relationships continue to flourish and take different forms, both unique to each and  such a blessing to me. I'm simply amazed at the passage of time.

I can't help but think back to all of the stages of his personal development and growth in addition to the countless memorable childhood moments. The first words and steps, first day of school, playing super hero around the house, dodge ball, basketball, playing with action figures with him making up all sorts of scenario's and so on. Christmas mornings when children are little are so precious, seeing the excitement of what's under the tree leave images permanently embedded in the brain. I think of sitting through school plays, parent PE day, conferences with teachers, science projects, book fairs, going to the movies of his choice, theme parks, coloring Easter eggs, baking and decorating Christmas cookies and leaving one for 'Santa', searching for the desired Halloween costume of choice, carving pumpkins, trick or treating, mending skinned knees and a thousand bedtime stories some from classic kids books, and some I'd make up as I went along - which he loved. I've helped him to deal with difficult times at school and listened to his hopes, dreams and frustrations - I'm sure there will be more of those talks as time goes on. I've seen his face change over these 18 years, listened to his voice grow deeper and coming to terms with the fact that he wanted to cut nearly a decade of hair growth shaving away his dreadlocks when he started high school.
One of the nice things is that he never went through a phase of not wanting to be seen with 'Mom' or showing affection to me in front of his friends. I'm also reminded of all of the rambunctious house full of boys sleep overs and video game marathons I endured. The list is long of this portion of his journey.  It's a bittersweet day for me just as it was the day he graduated from high school and his first day of college this fall. One of the things a lot of parents may find themselves doing is always hoping we've planted the right seeds and given our sons and daughters the tools and foundation to succeed in their own lives. I am no different.

During these past 18 years I have also gone through my own personal growth and development. Growing older I think constantly about life and how precious it is. One of the most important things to be that I'm quite selfish about is creating as much joy and peace in our lives and environment as possible. Our home is our safe place to fall, our haven, no matter the address. I've had my own age milestones and when I look in the mirror I'm looking at everything. Some days I laugh and say 'Not bad, you're holding up quite nicely girl', some days I feel differently; which results in a bit of laughter and I head for the ice cubes, the gym or the jogging trail. In these 18 years, I've worked at being more health conscious, and currently learning to deal with changing hormones and what effect the process is having on my body, mind and spirit. It's another personal crossroads in some ways. I've learned how not to stress unless there's a real reason to. I've learned that my sense of humor is always invaluable. Life can be challenging and I feel that we have to be able to laugh especially at ourselves from time to time. I keep saying to myself  "18 years".
My life was turned upside down during my pregnancy. I divorced when my son was a baby and dealt with a major sense of failure, heartache and disappointment of a marriage that did not have the commitment and longevity I'd hoped for, like so many have lived through. I've never had the experience that many women do with a husband who is there for you and who has your back. Someone to say "Baby, it's OK, I've got this!" I have not had someone to talk to on the ride home from parent teacher conferences and so on other than my son or daughter  - but I made it like millions of other women have done. I'm thankful for life's lessons, no matter how hard they were to overcome, they really do serve as opportunities.  I'm thankful for my mother has who and continues to be a great help to me and as 'Grandma'.

Going through a divorce, during this 18 year journey made me want to know myself more and I took steps to do that. Sometimes when you're always pushing forward and pushing forward, it's often a mask for what you feel within. It's easier to runaway sometimes, even from ourselves, and I didn't want to be that person. Some people never get comfortable with who they really are, it's all fake and superficial. Truly dealing with self  brings about acknowledgment of flaws, personal responsibility for choices including extreme naivete and denial when the red flags are slapping us in the face. No pain no gain I suppose. I've learned to forgive others as well as myself, but never forget so as to not make the same mistakes or lapses in judgment again.  I wanted to get to that place deep within, not superficially - but deep within. I'd scratched the surface with my daughter but I was still too young to totally figure things out - who am I, outside of my career? I was determined to be able to choose my next relationship with a greater sense of self - and not selflessness. It's still a process but one which has given me a greater sense of fulfillment - knowing myself a little more each day and learning to value who I am, which has nothing to do with music, popularity, fame or fortune.

In the midst of my personal life, I've maintained a career and handled its twists and turns with as much grace as I can while being a Mom. It's not easy, but these past 18 years have shown me how resilient I am. More recently, I've thought now that my children aren't really children and won't need me in the same way - what new challenges and directions should I be looking forward to. Do I want to still be an artist the next 18 years after completing and promoting 'Chameleon', do I want to go back to college, finally finish my memoirs, and other books, write a musical for Broadway, taking on new paths altogether? I'm always thinking and this has been true all of my life. There was a time I wouldn't travel or take jobs because I wanted to be home and didn't want to miss anything with regard to their upbringing if I didn't have to. My son and daughter have often been worked into my travel plans as well, allowing them to see the world as I worked and had the comfort of knowing they were still with me. It's been a luxury and a gift to be able to make those decisions , my solo career has provided that level of choice. Now, I can travel more - if I choose.
I will have a greater freedom than I've had before but somehow I already know it will be hard to be too far away.

I don't like to think about time, but on a day like today I can't help it. I've watched my son grow up, literally becoming taller than me a couple of years ago. His soaring height was an incredible and humorous realization. Today however,  I find myself in total awe of him as he officially becomes a young man.

I look forward to the next chapters to come!

Photo: (via): Life Magazine

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