So my son Emir is growing a mustache and I am freaking out. Why am I freaking out? For several reasons, actually. I am divorced and Emir’s father is not close at this precise moment so there’s no “man of the house” to coach him through this. Further, I have no knowledge of the process of helping a male teenager shave for the first time. I found myself sobbing this morning while googling “safe razors for beginners.” I am somehow scared, excited and completely overwhelmed, while at the same proud for something that I had nothing to do with. I mean, his mustache is not my achievement, it is just a typical stage in the life of any male teenager.
Anyway, for the time being, he is cool with his mustache and told me he wants to grow a beard. Yeah, right! So the conversations have started around the, “when do we do this, Emir?” and him responding, “Are we doing this together?” Me on the other side, “Yes, Emir. Because I don’t want you to get hurt. I will be watching you” and like that, it keeps going with the “I can do it on my own,” and the “I know but let me help.”
Very typical in the atypical if we consider that Emir has Down syndrome. But on days like this one, I usually need to stop and reflect on what is going on between my teenage son and me. I asked myself, “why are you crying, Eliana?” and the answer is because he is growing up. I can’t help but to be emotional about this! I don’t how we got to a point in which we are discussing what steps to take to have a safe first shaving experience – it happened so fast! God knows how proud I am to be having these discussions with real words but He probably also understands how scary it is to be in a place that once you pictured as so far in the future. My baby boy is growing up. He is transitioning and suddenly we are working on his plan for life after high school. He is shaving for the first time.
Do these feelings have something to do with the atypical circumstance of Emir living with Down syndrome? I don’t think so, I think they are all about the typical in the atypical. I’m in the midst of feeling the weight of aging while my kids keep growing up. And I’ll admit to feeling lost in such a typical and ridiculous situation. I carry the humbleness of understanding that even living atypical lives due to native language, special needs, marital status, and more, our lives are extremely typical and our fears are no different when it comes to facing typical stages like this one.
I know in a couple of months Emir’s first shaving experience is going to be another anecdote of growing up together as a family, but right now it is the most important upcoming event of the weekend. My friend J recommended an electric razor that I already ordered, so here we go, we are writing a new chapter of this story. Our story, which turns out to be a very typical tale of love and faith in the atypical circumstance of growing up with Down syndrome as the child of a dramatic mother who loves you more than words can tell, Emir.