A show of solidarity, hair style

Every year, I look forward to May for so many reasons.  May brings such happy milestones with her.  School is almost out, the weather is (usually) nice, and summer is just around the corner.   You can almost taste the crisp, sweet watermelon; feel the cold chlorine pools; and smell the musky bar-b-que smoke.  May is the reward for surviving the Winter cold and the April rains.

It's glorious.

May also means that it is time for The Mowhawks.  And, yes, a tradition that has lived on for seven years in our family deserves its own capitalization.  (For previous years comparisons, see here, here, here, here, and here.) 

Oh, but this day has brought such bittersweet feelings in my heart this year.  It means that our time in St. Louis is fast approaching its end.  And I'm not at all emotionally prepared to face that reality.

But that is a post for another (sob-filled) day.

Making this year's Mohawks that much more awesome is the fact that my boys conned two of their friends into getting them, as well.  If you're going to be brave and crazy, you might as well have some company.

Without further adieu, here is a plethora of photos documenting the fabulous process that is The Mowhawks.

May the tradition live on, long after we have left this place.

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Fifteen

Dear McKay,

Fifteen years ago today, you took two young, dumb, baby-faced kids in love:

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And you made them parents.

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We had no idea what we were doing, and we have undoubtedly made many mistakes.  Still are making them, I'm sure.

But oh, it's been a fun ride.

You made being a parent far easier than it actually was (as we learned when your colicky brother joined the family).  You were the easiest newborn I've ever known, and the happiest toddler.  You have always had a smile on your face and joy in your heart.  You sought to obey and still continue to do so.  Life has definitely been more sweet with you around.

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Today was a pretty big day for you.  I have been a ball of nerves all day long, and worried and fretted for you and your big appointment at the DMV.  I think my blood pressure definitely hit unsafe levels during the 10-minute written test, as I sat on a cold, metal folding chair in the next room and wrung my hands sore.  I knew how badly you wanted to pass, and for that reason I wanted you to.

Desperately. 

And while I am absolutely terrified of handing you the keys to my car, I have no doubt that you'll probably do better than I did.

I don't see any joyrides at midnight in cars driven by unlicensed friends in your future.

Right?  RIGHT?

You are so unlike what I was at this age.  It astonishes me and fills me with awe to see your happy confidence.  You are ever the social butterfly, but never too busy to hang with your brother.  Your sister doesn't quite speak the same love language, and your early morning happiness is definitely wasted on the likes of her.  But your persistence pays off, and even she can't resist your happy banter.

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Mack, you make me so proud.

I am proud of the young man you are becoming.  I am proud of the example you are to your younger siblings, and even to your friends.  Your heart is a good one.   Your standards are high, and you expect a lot from those in your life.  I so admire that about you.

I have been so impressed with your smooth transition to high school this year.  I won't lie, getting up to drive you to early morning seminary is kind of killing little bits of my soul.  But it is all worth it when I see what it means to you.  Your dedication inspires me to be better.  To try harder.  To do what I know I should.

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Thank you for being such an important part of our family.  Your sense of humor, your quick wit, and your keen observations make you so unique and such a big part of our lives.

Thank you for your patience, as I've tried and made lots of mistakes on you.  You, my first baby.  The one who has to endure the twists and turns of the learning curve with me.  You, who've had to suffer most through my inadequacies.  You've made it easy on me, kid.

And you've made it exceptionally fun.

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Happy fifteenth, Mack.

I love you.  I couldn't be more proud of you.

Love,

Mama

Changes

His broad shoulders are carrying a heavy load - both in the substantial backpack he wears, and in the burden he carries each day.  I can't help but watch him and wonder -- does he see the change that is happening almost overnight?  Does he feel the growth that I see each and every morning?

I like mornings now.

Well, maybe not mornings, but I really like the time I get to spend with him.  Just he and I.  We have already created several inside jokes, and we laugh about them while the rest of the world is still dreaming.  The house is quiet.  The others, asleep.

As we drive through dark streets to his six a.m. religion class, I try not to notice the puffiness around his eyes, or the weariness on his face.  The mama in me worries, wondering how in the world he'll ever sustain this pace of 13-hour days.  But then he smiles, lights up, and tells me all about his upcoming day.  He has taken the pressure, exhaustion, and work load and chosen instead to see them as a routine that he enjoys.  A challenge.  He drives himself to do better, to run faster, to study more.

I tear up, wondering just when exactly my little boy decided it was okay to cease being just that.  I turn from him and wipe the tears, not wanting him to see me mourn for what once was.  Truthfully?  I'm prouder than I could have ever imagined I'd feel at this moment.  And I wouldn't have him any other way.

But there is a part of me that will always miss his chubby hands and toothless grin.  His Lego days, superman capes, and endless rounds of Goodnight Moon.  Skinned boy knees, all curled up in my lap.  Soft arms around my neck, and whispered I love yous every night at his bedside.

He's grown up seemingly almost overnight.  Right before my eyes, and quite without my permission.  Nobody warned me that this would happen in high school.  Nobody said that he would rise to the task, take on responsibility and seriousness with the ease of slipping into a new shirt.  I expected it to be harder, more fraught with emotion, and requiring the inevitable pain that growth produces.

Instead, he's taken life by the horns, and done so with more grace and charm than his mother has known in a lifetime.

I'm so proud of you, Mack.

I can almost forgive you for destroying the drapes in that one old house.

Almost.  But not quite.


5-7-9

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Today, my newborn baby boy started high school. It's a little hard to imagine how he is getting from class to class, what with his being like FOUR DAYS OLD and all. But maybe someone gave him a piggy back ride? Helped him open his locker with his tiny, peeling, newborn fists?

I do hope so.

Because I'm sort of a wreck just thinking about it.

All day long, I've been chomping at the bit, anxiously awaiting his arrival home.

And, thanks to the cross country practice, he won't get here until dinner time.

By which point, I expect he's grown a full beard, has a job, and four kids of his own.

Don't mock.  It feels about that long since he WAS a newborn. They always told me it would go so fast. When I had three kids under age four, I fervently hoped it was true with every fiber of my being.  The days were endless, and the nights - anything but restful.  It was one long sleep-deprived millennia, dotted here and there with moments that made it all worth while.

Like when they were all asleep at the same time.

But now that they're fun, interesting, and like the same movies as me? I'd sort of like time to just stand still for a moment.  To freeze the laughter that fills the air like a thick fog when we watch Seinfeld re-runs together.  To remember their sharp wit, and bottle up the occasional hugs from their long, gangly bodies.  To hold on to them for just a little longer.

Sigh.

The other two were much more nonchalant as they headed out the door this morning.

The middle child is smack dab in the middle of his middle school career. He knows the ropes, he has his friends, and it's all not nearly as exciting as the 900 hours he taped for Shark Week.

But, man, do I love him something fierce.

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And my baby girl.  Starting what will be our final year of elementary school. She is as dramatic as she always has been. What with the ASSIGNED SEATS AT LUNCH, UGH. And actual HOMEWORK required of her. But still. I forgive her for growing up because she flies into my arms with a choking squeeze as soon as she gets off the bus.  Never knowing which one of us really needs that touch more.

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I think it's going to be all right.

Plus?  We're now one day closer to summer vacation next year.

You could set your watch by it


It's not the warm, muggy weather that is starting to creep in and make you sweat all over.

It's not the lack of homework or plethora of school functions four out of the five nights per week.

It's not even the sudden urge to stop eating and drop 40 pounds because OH MY GOSH it's time to get into a swimsuit.

Though that is a serious problem.

How do you know that summer is almost here? These fabulous hair cuts, that's how.

Six years running, people.  That is a lot of hair history.

I give you the Mohawk Brothers of 2012.

Before:
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And after:
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I was hoping to find an explanation for behavior like this, but sadly, I don't think we can blame it on the mohawks.  I think we can blame it on the fact that they are boys.

And boys will always be boys.

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Welcome back, summer. It's good to see you, old friend.

Fourteen

Dear McKay,

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Well, my boy, you are now 14.

As I've thought about what I'd like to tell you in this birthday letter, I am drawn time and time again to the contrast between you and the person I was at 14. I was snarky, sarcastic, angry, and insecure. I took every opportunity to buck the rules laid upon me, and resented the grown up people in my life. I was rebellious and unhappy.

The greatest thrill of my life is that you are, in every single way, the complete opposite of what I was then. You are happy, kind, sweet, and confident. You love and adore the parentals in this house and look forward to time spent together as a family. You obey the rules religiously, and bring logical well-planned arguments for our consideration when you think rules should be altered. Quite honestly, we usually agree with your logic, and make changes accordingly.

Though we don't tell you often enough, we are proud as punch for the maturity you show in times like these. You make it nearly impossible to tell you no, kid.

And you leave me wondering what I ever did to deserve you.

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Right now, you are obsessed with all things basketball. Almost every item on your birthday wish list was basketball related. You have a routine after school each day, and you follow it rain or shine. After guzzling a large glass of milk, you head out to the back yard and shoot some hoops. I think it helps you to clear your head and unwind before the chore of homework begins.

What brings a smile to my face is that most days I look out the window and see you with your brother or sister, offering pointers, and cheering them on from the sidelines, rather than shooing them away to focus on yourself.

It's not the game that matters. It's the people who play alongside you that count. A lesson, sweet boy, that we are all learning from you.

Mack, your heart is pure gold.

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As you grow into a man, which I know is bound to happen whether I like it or not, I hope you will take this knowledge and lock it deep inside your heart: There is not a day goes by that I don't thank god for sending me you. You are truly a noble soul. Your sweetness of spirit is infectious and brings joy to all those around you. You are quick to laugh, especially at yourself, and so easy to love.

You make me smile each and every day.

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Thank you for showing me just how fantastically wonderful teenage boys can be.

I love you, my little KcKay. And I always will.

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Love, Mami