Remember when Zane turned 18? That was awesome. Today he turns 19.
There are a lot of firsts in a parents life and every parent notices different ones. When your baby is young they come every day, like a barrage of cheap and common tricks, every one of them new and exciting to you and boring to others; every baby rolls eventually.
When your baby reaches pre-adolescence the firsts become more nuanced and fraught with potential pain - the first time she won't hold your hand in public or tell you she loves you in front of her friends; where you were once cool you are now a dork. I remember the first time I refused to skip down the street with my mom, newly self-conscious and beginning the hard act of distinguishing myself from her. She took it in stride, but I remember knowing I had hurt her.
When your pre-adolescent becomes a teenager their firsts as people become indistinguishable from your firsts as a parent - the first time they drive on their own is the first time you let them drive on their own. And when your teenager becomes an adult most of their firsts are unknown to you, mysterious and probably cringe-worthy - you are happy to let them be that way.
My baby. The first time I cut food for him. When his L's became actual L's; "yud" became "love." His first deep cut, above his left eyebrow. The stitches. The first day he did not nurse. The first time he saw the ocean.
My child. His first subway ride. Baseball game. Sleepover. Crush.
My teenager. Hair. Oh the hair! When "Can you come over and play?" became "Wanna hang out?" He is taller than me. Driving.
My young adult. Complex relationships. Hitting 6' 3". Work. More work. Living in a house other than mine. Filing his taxes. And this:
His first birthday without his mom waking him up to wish him Happy Birthday. His first birthday in which he will not see his mom at all. Which is to say, dear reader, my first birthday without being able to wake him up and wish him Happy Birthday. My first birthday not seeing him at all.
This is, of course, a first that every parent will go through, and so in some ways it is cheap and common and not exciting to anyone, least of all me. But it is also a first that feels overwhelmingly significant.
When I turned 19, Zane was at my birthday party. He was 3 months and 1 day old. We have been sharing birthdays for half my life now. To not share this one with him means that, really and truly and kind of forever, our relationship has moved on from the intimate and immediate one we've had for the last 18 years and into a distant and distinctly adult one. From now on, the injuries he sustains will be handled by doctors, he is well acquainted with a fork and knife, he can buy his own ballgame tickets, and he has driven across the country. Twice.
My role is no longer an observer and cheerleader of firsts. To be honest, I don't really know what it is, for the first time.