A Letter to My Youngest Son as He Enters Middle School

middle school students talking

Photo by Will & Deni McIntyre

Photo by Will & Deni McIntyre

I think, maybe he won’t change, maybe he’ll be this way forever.

Dear Youngest Son,

I see you over there wrestling with your brother on the living room floor, looking so happy and carefree. It makes me want this summer to last forever for many reasons, but I'm facing the fact (very slowly) that you are about to go through something these next few years that will change you.

Parts of you will fade away almost as soon as you walk through the doors of middle school. There are moments when I think you might hold onto your innocence a bit longer, like when I see you jump off the sofa to help me with grocery bags, when you save your last chocolate for me, and when you still grab for my hand and let me kiss the top of your head in public.

I think, maybe he won’t change, maybe he’ll be this way forever.

But I've been through this twice before, and I know all too well. You are on the cusp of unbecoming who you used to be.

It was hard on me to watch your two older siblings go through this but if I'm being honest, I was soothed by fact I still had you waiting in the wings.

You still want to make funny videos with me, and you aren't embarrassed about what I wear or how I behave in public while your older brother and sister are very vocal about all the ways I'm humiliating them. You still see me as your mom, not as the person who is trying to ruin your life.

You are my child who still wants to do things with me, you don't mind sitting next to me at sporting events, and the other day when you saved all your lemon Starburst just for me because you knew they were my favorite, it almost did me in. Not only because it was the sweetest thing ever, which it was, but also because I know those moments are fleeting.

I'm not saying you aren't going to be a generous, compassionate soul any longer, I just know you will be changing a lot and as much as I try and brace myself, I'm not able to do it fully, but I'm trying.

These past few years we've shared a tight bond because in many ways your brother and sister have changed a lot and you have not, but I feel it coming. And I'm a little heartbroken about it.

No one told me the last one would be the hardest to let go of, but I guess it makes sense—you are the baby of the family, and maybe I'm holding on tighter than I should, but I can't help it.

Having gone down this road before has made me come face to face with the fact it actually does happen: kids actually do grow up and move on and change and don’t need their parents as much as they once did. You are on your way to all those experiences and emotions.

I watched your siblings pull away from me and grow up quite a bit during this journey you are about to go on, and I'll act like I'm ready for it for your sake, but I'm not. I know you'll come through the doors one day and you will have changed, just like that.

I also know you won't be coming back and it's just as hard on you as it is on me. Being a middle-schooler isn't easy; being a teenager isn't easy; having a mother who is mourning your childhood isn't easy. In fact, I've heard it's downright annoying.

But I will be over here trying my best, I promise you that. Please just keep in mind, some days I might do better than others. And if every once in a while you remember you are my last child and can throw some of your sweetness and compassion my way, I'll try extra hard not to embarrass you and let you let do your thing.

Love always,

Mom

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine and is a full-time freelance writer. She's writes about all things parenting, food, and fashion.