We have all heard the term or this saying at one point or another in our lives. You may have even used it yourself, more than once a day! This word gets wrapped up into a main phrase used nowadays to acknowledge the end of something and/or the beginning of another in one’s life. I guess ‘Book of Life’ in this case would be appropriate to use. Here are some examples of what I am talking about:
“Congrats! Enjoy this next chapter of your life!”
“This was for the best, now you can open up a new chapter in your life and start again.”
“Just let that chapter of your life close and another will open and start for you.”
“Honey, end that chapter of your life, and start another…oooooooo k?”
You get the point. That’s where I land personally. I am at the close or end of one thing and I am at the beginning of a whole new “chapter” in life. I think the word “world” should be used in my case. A whole new world. A whole new wooooooooorld. I took the liberty of adding this video as you probably started singing like Jasmine in your head. You won’t be able to help it.
Ironically, growing up and even in my adulthood people tell me I look like Jasmine from the ANIMATED movie Aladdin. Man, I wish I got a dollar bill every time. I also can’t forget getting this peppered throughout my life still, “Oh my god, you look just like Pocahontas.” Again, wish the dollar bill on this one. I will leave it to you to imagine what type of person(s) would say such a thing right to someone’s face trying to make a legit conversation. Low-key racist? Frankly, I’m so used to dodging and compartmentalizing racism towards me my whole life that I don’t even notice it anymore. Half the time I probably just glaze over and smile and nod when a comment is made. That’s what happens to a brown girl growing up in Southern New Hampshire and going to schools where you maaaaaaaybe could count all non-caucasian students on two hands. I digress. Let’s just throw this segment in the “Challenges" section of the blog title.
The amount of chapters in a person’s lifetime is up for interpretation and based on someone’s opinion, whether it's through your lens or someone else’s. Some people deem chapters in life as major milestones like wedding anniversaries, graduations, births, retirements, and such. Some take it down even another notch and consider a chapter opening and/or closing when their child moves throughout their mandatory school years. Either those first-day-of-school pictures of kids with their parent-made signs, or the latter, when their kid graduates a grade in school and holds up a graduation sign referencing the 2nd grade. And don’t even get me started on parents out there dropping cash on parties for something like that. Billy Madison style. But to each their own. As I said I digress.
Eighteen years ago yesterday on Sept. 23rd, 2005 at 6:00 pm-ish, a new chapter started in my life. The parent segment of the book. I became a single mom to my now sooooo handsome and intelligent 18-year-old son. I’m what I call The Dub Sing mom, or the SINGLE SINGLE mom. There are 2 singles in that because this mom was by her single self and never married these years, didn’t take anything from anyone (including child support), and did it more or less by herself. She was a true, actual single mom taking care of her child that she was responsible for, and financially was always the biggest stressor, of course.
These types of ladies are a rare breed and few and far between, but I fall in this group. We are the women who are so fiercely smart, strong, direct, resourceful, capable, and independent because we had to mold into that way years ago. There was no option not to. You had this little creature that you were responsible for keeping alive, nurturing, and taking care of until it grew up to be “on its own”. We are now the women who only want to let men into our personal lives if they can actually top what we already do and take care of in our own lives. Do they bring more to the table or less? Not a lot of men can understand that, live up to that expectation, or be secure with the fact that their woman can be a gorgeous and smart BIA, capable of doing every single thing they can in life. Or if they do understand that and are okay with it, they aren’t single and/or attracted to you. 😛
Some of these women, like myself, had actual relationships with their significant others, and for whatever reason, this significant other decided they didn’t want to be a part of you anymore. It’s those women who had to let go of one life because she couldn’t end the new life that was underway. Let's throw this segment in the “Challenges” section of the blog title.
So…my beloved son turned 18 years old yesterday, Happy Birthday to him! This is considered a major milestone, so DEFINITELY a new chapter opening and an old one closing in both of our lives right now. Major ones. I dare even say a launch of a saga because we’re awesome. Per my research, the “Age 18” has been the age of majority since President Nixon signed it into law in 1971. Before the passage of the 26th Amendment in 1971, the age of majority was 21. But when Franklin D. Roosevelt lowered the military draft age to 18 during World War II, there was a push to align the voting age with the military draft age. So my son now belongs in the ‘Age of Majority’ bracket in the State of California. What does that even mean?
A good summary of what the term ‘age of majority’ means is: “the threshold of legal adulthood as recognized or declared in law. It is the moment when minors cease to be considered such and assume legal control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thus terminating the control and legal responsibilities of their parents or guardian over them”. I think any parent of a teenager just laughed a little reading that. Only you guys know that this “control” they should be taking over isn’t even close to being taken over. The teenagers now are a different breed. And I can honestly say that with me being born and raised as a GEN X and him being a teenager in 2023, we have never butted heads so much. Gen X 4-Evaaaaa
To budding men, I’m sure that legal definition can sound freaking scary, and quite honestly can be if you are a parent who changes the locks the minute they turn into an adult. Good luck out there in the real world to all of you. To me, it is kind of bittersweet. I feel like my true “baby boy” chapter is now closing and the “my son the Man” chapter is beginning. I will always call him by the several private nicknames I have for him, and he can fight me to stop the use of those for the rest of his life. His next couple of chapters will be lengthy ones that will last the next span of years. It’s that specific chunk of time, the 18 - 22 years of age range, where kids realize they need to grow the F up all of a sudden. Some got prepped as much as possible, some here and there, some not at all. This goes for millions of students and teenagers around the world all going through the same thing, no matter what country it is.
My son is becoming more of a physically built man each and every day. He can now become a soldier if he so chooses, he can now register to vote, he can now apply to way more real jobs, no more 18+ only allowed situations, he is able to be on his own legally, and he is graduating High School in 6 months. I think out of all those things, H.S. is the most exciting and takes the cake for him. Technically, no more school after that is mandatory. And he knows it!
The only thing a parent can do at this stage of their child’s life is to take chapters out of their own book of life to share and help provide some kind of information (granted, majorly dated) for your child to make their own decision based on your past ones. When you think about it, parenting a first child is the blind leading the blind. No first-time parent has any idea what they are doing. We can read a ton of books, and articles, listen to podcasts, talk to friends, talk to family, join parenting groups, and google to the ends of the earth. But in the end, nothing will truly prepare you for what every unpredictable minute of life brings you each day. Nothing out of all those things I listed provides a true roadmap for parenting??! Nope. That step-by-step guide does not exist. And guess what, you are still becoming an adult yourself.
I’m 43 years old and I have no idea how to keep raising an 18-year-old and beyond that for that matter. But we will figure it out together. My son is my best friend and I am his (so he says, lol). My ride-or-die has been with me 24/7 365 for eighteen years. He is the first thing I think about when waking up and I am the first thing he thinks of. We can't help it, our attachment at the hip has been building for that long. He is the only person in this world who truly knows me. He has gotten extreme V.I.P. access his whole life to me and I have given him the same V.I.P. service his whole life. We are just taking it day by day. I do feel like I am opening my eyes in a different way now. That single mom weight is psychologically and mentally slowly lifting off my mind and shoulders more and more each day. Maybe next up is trying to find a life companion/husband. We'll see. Holla at your girl. I'm going to be an empty nester at 44. Wtf?!
But I did it. We made it. He is great. Erika, everything you went through was worth it. All the dark times and days, all the tears, all of the Challenges, and the sacrificing of your whole being and soul for the last 18 years led to these new chapters. I’m naming my son’s new life chapter: “Technically A Man, and Now Has To Really Be One”. It’s going to be my job to just be there for him, monitor the footnotes, and make sure they are all legally cited. And the name of my new parent chapter is: “The New Man Mom”.