YESTERDAY WAS The Boss's thirteenth birthday and WHAM, just like that, now I have TWO TEENAGERS living in my house. And yet, even though he's got a peach-fuzz mustache and his voice is deepening, I can't help but remember him when he was all

Baby Boss

and all

Big blue eyes

And then a few years later, he was all

Boss at 6 or 7
The Boss was born just three days after my birthday, which means that in 1998, I kinda stopped having birthdays. Which is cool, because I was 31 on the day he was born and I'd be okay if I could just continue to celebrate the anniversaries of the day I turned 31 instead of the day I was born, back in the Gay Nineties  heyday of the rotary dial telephone  the Sixties.

But the darndest thing with kids – they grow up. You can cuddle and coddle and try to squoosh them down and keep them from growing, but soon they're looking you square in the eye and articulating keen observations and you can start to see the grown-up they'll soon be.

Boss 2011
…but at thirteen, they're still young enough to be a kid.

Even though they all look like me (Curt has been known to refer to them as "Meg, Megger and Meggest"), each of my boys has a unique personality. It's fun to observe them as they mature. Sometimes I wish for the days when they were cuddly babies or chubby toddlers. Things were easier then. But The Boss has been such a joy to parent.

Recently, he and I found ourselves alone at the house on a lazy Sunday. I tried to interest him in getting out of the house. "Let's go buy you that new pair of sneakers you need," I prodded. "Or how about we go see a movie? Just us two!" He hemmed and hawed and hesitated. "Oh, c'mon," I urged. "Let's!!"

"Uh, it would be kinda embarassing if my friends saw me at a movie with my mom, Mom."

He didn't mean to crush my maternal heart or to drop-kick my spirit, but that comment was such a kick in the gut. And despite my futile protests ("It isn't unusual for a kid your age to be seen in public with your parent from time to time"), I totally understood where he was coming from. My boys don't believe it, but I DO remember what it was like to be thirteen. It wasn't all that long ago, really. I know what it feels like to wrestle with your feelings for your parents, to try and achieve independence. 

We celebrated his big day in the way that has become our tradition: Dinner out at Sakura, a Japanese steak house. We love the hibachi, the goofy show the chef provides as he whips up fried rice and sears steak and seafood and veggies. And he's my kid, too, in that he could take or leave cake. It was a good night.

Family 7-22-11
Boss, we love you so much and are so proud of the young man you've become. I'm so glad I get to be your mom!

Mixed Feelings

I AM ALL ALONE in my too-quiet house and it feels… wierd.

Summer, while it brings a welcome respite from the frantic pace of the school year, becomes for us a patchwork of camps, trips, and path-of-least-resistance parenting as we attempt to juggle boys with free time and our work schedules. When they were younger, my older boys eagerly went to camps. Now they'd rather hang out, visit friends, do whatever.

Now that Peezer is school-aged, he's enjoying day camp this year.  But ten whole weeks of camp are expensive! And Peezer's main camp was closed last week for the July 4 holiday, and doesn't run the last two weeks of August. So there are holes in the coverage that need to be filled with trips or other elaborate arrangements.

Last week we vacationed at Dewey Beach. The end of next week we're taking a quick jaunt to South Carolina – I'll tell you about that one later. Otherwise, we do have to WORK and all, so we end up sending the kids elsewhere for short stretches to break up the daily monotony of sleeping in / non-stop XBox / TV / ramen noodle lunches.

Peezer and The Boss left Sunday for a week with family in PA, and I just put Seth and our niece (who is the same age as Seth) on a plane bound for Houston where they will hang out with cousins for a whole week!

(Dear Houston, please accept my apologies in advance for any bad behavior – I'm sure it was an accident! – and just send me a bill for the damage. Many Thanks!)

And not counting the dogs, who will need a walk soon, and work, which I must get back to in a moment, there is no one depending on me for anything.  No lunches to pack, no sunscreen to apply, no fights to referee, messes to clean up, children to nag to bathe / clean up their socks / chip bags / cups / soda cans / popsicle sticks. No iCarly or Spongebob Squarepants to tune out. No wet towels to peel off the floor. No frantic drop-off or pick-up deadlines, no therapy appointments to hurry to, no one to remind to take their medicine, no playdates to arrange, no trips to the pool (well, maybe we'll go – that might be fun, to be there and not have to wonder if our kids are safely buoyant)…

I hear a lawn mower outside and have a fan blowing but otherwise?

Shhhh. It's veeerrrrrry quiet.

And right now, I like it.

It'll be this way until Saturday or Sunday, when the younger two return. The teenagers fly back next Tuesday.

Yet as much as I need this break, this reset, it feels rather strange. I'm feeling aimless. Marginal. Because this week? I can make some decisions without regard to how it impacts the kids.

Of course, there is the dog to consider. 

Anyone want a dog? Because even though the kids are gone, I still have to combat the dog-hair tumbleweeds.

See? I'm not getting off entirely without obligations.

It's good for the kids to get away: Good for them and good for us. And as happy as I am to have a few selfish days to myself, I have to say, I'll be really happy to see them when they return.