Now we are thirt

We’ve been arguing about it for months. MONTHS! Every time you said, “I’m going to be a TEENAGER soon,” I replied with a swift verbal smackdown:

“No. NO YOU’RE NOT. I won’t allow it. You can’t!”

You laughed, every time. The joke never grows old. (Then again, when has a joke ever grown old with you? Exactly. Wait, let me guess: You’re Batman? I thought so!)

About a week ago, you told me you had the solution. “Mom. Mom! Since you don’t want me to be a teenager, I’ve decided I’ll just turn THIRT. No teen, see?” I agreed that this was an excellent solution. “Maybe when you stop freaking out then I can add the ‘teen’ part back.” I assured you that that would never happen.

You don’t understand why I’m taking this so hard, why I simply cannot wrap my brain around the idea that there’s no denying you’re on your way to adulthood. I wasn’t like this with your sister.

I know some people lament the teenagerhood of their youngest because they miss the little-kid things, or because it makes them feel old to have all teens. You know I love little kids. Adore them, really. But it’s been years since I made my peace with my days of wiping noses and bottoms being over. It turns out that I like sleeping a lot more than I like baby nuzzles, and besides, you’re still game to climb on my lap and hang off me like a primate, even at your advanced age. (As for feeling old, well… too late. That has nothing to do with you.)

Others see their baby entering the teen years and fear that the good times are over. I mean… teenagers. THEY’RE DREADFUL, right? And your sister had a pretty bumpy entrance to teendom, so maybe I’m afraid of something similar with you…? I’m not, though. First of all, I happen to quite LIKE teenagers, for the most part. I mean, sure, their brains aren’t fully formed and most of them are composed of roughly one part acne cream, two parts drama, and three parts irrationality, but still. Some of my favorite people are teens. So that’s not it, either.

I think the problem is that I finally got what I wanted.

For so many years, I looked at you, my beautiful boy, and my heart would constrict. “Such a beautiful baby,” people murmured when you were tiny. “Such a happy little guy!” they’d exclaim as you toddled around, giggling that deep laugh that bubbled up from your toes. And then that gave way to staring, to pointedly averted gazes, as you shrieked and flailed and hid from a world that was too overwhelming. I worried about you, all the time. Sensory Integration Disorder, they told us, but that didn’t seem like the whole story. Oh, OOPS, actually Asperger’s Syndrome (oh, excuse me, latest revision of the DSM, that’s “high-functioning autism” now, I guess), they decided, later, as my worry continued unabated. And things should’ve been getting better, but they were getting worse, and then there was the whole seizure drama, and my diffuse worries became a persistent chant in my brain.

Please, God, let my baby be okay. Let him grow up. Let him be healthy. Let him have a life he loves. Let him someday move out of my house because he wants to and he can.

We did everything we knew to do to make you okay, darlin’. Surgery, after months of illness, and then after middle school orientation scared the crap out of all of us, we dove into homeschooling with the help of our beloved Hippie School.

Before all of this, I didn’t know if you’d ever truly be okay. I never would’ve said it out loud, of course. But I had no idea what lay ahead for you; I wasn’t sure you’d ever live independently, even, and not because you’re not smart and capable, but just because for so long there, life just seemed to consistently overwhelm you. Even when things were better, they were still challenging.

This morning, as I got up in the wee dark hours to make cinnamon rolls for you (“Because your cinnamon rolls are the BEST THING IN THE WHOLE WORLD!”), I realized that I’ve gotten my wish in spades. You’re growing up. You’re healthy. You’re happy. You feel capable and confident more often than you feel overwhelmed and unsure. You do the dishes without me asking, most of the time, and if I have to ask you always say, “Sure, Mom!” as if I’ve given you something wonderful. You still hold my hand in public, sometimes, unaware that this might appear odd, but you also occupy yourself for hours and work out classwork schedules for yourself AND sometimes come dancing into my office just to make me laugh.

You will leave me someday. Maybe not right at 18, no, but you will go away to college and beyond, despite your constant assurances that you would never want to live anywhere else. You will, trust me. I will miss you terribly, but you have no idea how proud of you I will be, too. Because I will remember that there were times when we thought it could never happen.

You dance. You make up silly songs. You declare yourself to be Batman. You build LEGOs. You play Minecraft. But you also… have crushes. Take pride in your high school classwork. Worry about your sister. Text with her and respond to her every “Totes, man!” with “Yes, toast! I like toast!” Cook with both careful precision and passion. Knit, because it calms you, and because “there’s no reason boys can’t knit, that’s so dumb.” Call your friends on the phone. Exchange emails with a fellow D&D enthusiast. Express deep gratitude because you don’t know how not to. And hold yourself together when you used to fall apart.

Let us not forget that when I poke at that space above your upper lip and pretend I’m trying to brush something off (“You’ve got a little… something… there….”), you insist that it is your MIGHTY MUSTACHE, and it goes with your invisible goatee. (Then you stroke said invisible goatee, by way of illustration, while waggling your eyebrows.)

I got my wish. You are healthy and happy and now I have to reconcile myself to the fact that you’re only mine for a short while more. All is as it should be, but forgive your old Mama if it takes me a little longer to adjust to this new reality. Just be thirt, just for today. I’m not ready for thirteen just yet. Sometimes getting what you want is harder than you think.

Happy birthday, Monkey. I love the man you’re becoming, but just for now, I’m going to pretend you’re still only a boy. I know the truth, don’t worry. Humor me. Be thirt for a little longer, while I catch up to all of these giant strides you’re making.


  1. Megan

    That was absolutely beautiful.

    Off to blow my nose now…

  2. Juli Ward

    Beautifully written! You could get him to stay young a little longer by telling him next year he can be fourt. What boy wouldn’t want to be fourt?

  3. Kelly

    Beautiful. Happy Birthday, Monkey!

  4. AlisonC

    Happy, happy, happy Birthday, Monkey!!

  5. liz

    Happy birthday, Monkey! Your mother writes beautifully.

  6. Jean

    Happy Birthday Monkey! Don’t mind me, I think I have something in my eye….must be the dry air in here….

  7. Mame

    Happy Birthday, Monkey!

  8. amy

    Beautiful! Happy Birthday, Monkey!

  9. Genevieve

    Lovely. Happy happy birthday, Monkey!

  10. KateB

    Oh, that was so lovely. Happy birthday, Monkey!!! And Hugs to you, Mir.

  11. Melissa


    I can only hope that I can be a mama like you when the time comes. I’m glad I’ve got your words to look back at then.

  12. diane

    It still blows my mind that I’ve been following your blog since the beginning, when the kids were just wee.
    Happy Thirt, Monkey! You’re awesome!

  13. Debbi

    Happy Birthday Monkey!!! Mir, I cried reading this! How wonderful. My little guy is approaching 13 this year and I have a lot of the same emotions. <3

  14. Hillary

    Happy Birthday, Monkey! Today is my son’s birthday too! He’s only 1 though, so I don’t have to worry about that whole “teen” thing just yet.

    Your mom makes you sound like a pretty awesome kid.

  15. Tenessa


  16. Lisa

    Happy Thirtnth Birthday, Monkey! What a lovely tribute. <3

  17. Brenda

    Happy Birthday, Monkey! I hope thirt is a wonderful year for you.

  18. Cheyenna

    Beautiful, Mir. Happy birthday, Monkey! I’m saving thirt for when my babies get there….

  19. Katherine

    Happy, happy birthday to a wonderful thirt boy, Monkey. My younger one turned thirt almost a year ago and I must say his intro to teens went much more smoothly than the older boy’s did. Thirt has been a wonderful year here – may yours be wonderful as well!

  20. mandy

    The fluid in my eyes!

    Happy thirt, dear Monkey.

    Mir, you need to write a book.

  21. ~zandra~

    Happy Birthday to Monkey! Your words were quite lovely :)

  22. liv

    happy birthday, monkey!! :) :)

  23. Jan in Norman, OK

    Happy Birthday, Monkey.

  24. elz

    Sniff, what a beautiful tribute to a thirt…. year old Monkey.

  25. Midj

    Happy Thirt. What a joy. Please pass along good wishes from me and the fam. I have thoroughly enjoyed the last several years of watching him grow through your eyes. When I eat my cake tomorrow, I will blow out a candle of good wishes for Monkey and Casa Mir. Let Monkey know I think choosing another way to express an age is an amazing way to embrace uniqueness (and save his mother’s heart). So, now, I will no longer be fifty-one, as of tomorrow I will be Five-Two. {Which is two inches taller than I really am… ;-) }

  26. MamaChristy

    I’m boo-hooing. Happy birthday, Monkey.

  27. Chuck

    Hooray for Monkey! Glad everything is going well, and happy birthday wishes.

  28. Jaime

    beautiful tribute. happy birthday Monkey!!

  29. Andea

    Happy birthday, Monkey!

  30. Karen R

    Happy birthday, Monkey!

  31. Bob

    Happy Birthday, Monkey!

  32. Dani

    Chills and tears and sniffles. Happy birthday, Monkey!

  33. Beth B.

    Brilliant! I like the idea of Thirt. Happy Birthday to your beautiful boy!

  34. RuthWells

    Damn, I’m out of tissues. Happy birthday, sweet Monkey. Mir, we can cry in our wine together as they grow up and leave us….

  35. Lindsey P

    This totally kicked up my allergies…. darn leaky eyes.
    Happy Birthday, Monkey!

  36. Julie in Colorado (was Austin)

    Happy bird day to Monkey!

  37. Another Dawn

    This post is full of happy. Happy Thirt Birthday, Monkey!

  38. jodifur

    Oh Mir, I’m crying now too. Happy Birthday Monkey.

  39. s

    Happy birthday… I too will be sad when my almost 11 yr old boy no longer acts like a Labrador puppy so I feel your pain.

  40. Little Bird

    Happy Birthday Monkey!!

  41. Michelle E

    Oh, I know how you feel. My sweet autistic boy (PDD-NOS) is fifteen now. He shaves, is taller than I am, and has a deep voice starting to show most of the time. I’m no longer worried that he will be okay (except a teesny bit deep down) because he’s handling high school so much better than I thought he would. I remember when he turned thirteen and you describe it so well, I’m just sitting here nodding my head. And I think Monkey has the right idea. So happy Thirt birthday to your wonderful boy!

  42. Andrea

    SO. Beautiful. Happy Birthday Monkey!
    Congrats, Mama. My prayer is the same as yours…I hope that in 4 years I am seeing the same amazing progress in my baby.

  43. LizD

    Happy Birthday to your very sweet bahbee. I LOVE thirt.

  44. Melissa

    Happy Birthday! It’s my birthday too, so I’ll be sharing my good wishes with you!!

  45. Rachel

    Happy Birthday Monkey! Your Mother is a beautiful writer. My ‘baby’ will be Thirt on Jan. 14, I’m not ready for him to be grown up either. I handled his older sister turning 13 better than I am with him, so maybe it’s just a 2nd child or youngest child thing… hugs to you & your momma.

  46. Kim

    Yea Monkey!

  47. Brigid

    Happy Birthday, Monkey!

    And thank you Mir.
    a mom who still worries all the time
    but has mad hope for the future

  48. Kate

    Happy Birthday, Monkey! May all your wishes come true!

  49. Karen

    Happy Birthday, Monkey!

    No fair making the pregnant lady cry, Mir. This was great, and Monkey is amazing!

  50. Kirsten

    Darn computer screen is making my eyes water. *sniff sniff* Must be a lot of dust in here too.

    Happy Thirt-day, dear Monkey :)

  51. Lily

    Happy birthday, Monkey! You ate awesome.

  52. Jim W

    Very nice…

    ” You’re healthy. You’re happy.” That was my prayer nightly for both my kids while they were in the womb. Please god let them be healthy and happy.

  53. Sheila

    Thirt. Brilliant.

    Happy, happy day to Monkey. I’m so glad to “know” him, for he makes me smile and makes me think, just like his Mom.

  54. Korinthia

    Happy Birthday, Monkey! And cinnamon rolls are the best.

  55. Grandma Cheryl

    Happy thirt, Monkey. May you get all that you wish for this year and always.

    And Mir – lovely piece, as usual.

    Love you both (and Otto and Chickie, too) more than I can say.

  56. js

    This stole my breath. It was a beautiful post for a kid with and equally beautiful spirit. Happy Birthday Monkey, and make it a great one!

  57. Pop C

    Happy thirtnth birthday Monkey. We have two granschildren that turn thrit this year too. Thay are both girls. So, pity their poor Mom’s.

  58. CuriousCat

    Dear Monkey

    May your Thirt birthday be happy and joyful!

    I am really looking forward to Fourt (but i think your mom is really glad she has a whole year before THAT happens).

    By the way, my name is Robin and I declare you to be BATMAN! I have the power to do so.

    Happy Birthday!

  59. Jamie

    Awesome!!!! Happy Day to Monkey!

  60. Rocky Mountain Woman

    I am totally going to make my youngest be “thirt” also, instead of “Thirty”


  61. Beth A.

    Happy Birthday Monkey!

    Mir, this was so nicely written!

  62. My Kids Mom

    I too am just not ready for the teen years. I want to cuddle them and sniff their baby sweet sweat, and what I get is squished by almost 100 lbs and stinky sweat. Thirt might be just what I need to make the transition. I have just a little longer.

  63. Jeanie

    Happy thirt birthday, Monkey!

  64. TC

    Lovely. Happy birthday Monkey! Here’s hoping that the rest of us can say something just as heartwarming (and heartrending) when our boys and girls hit the not-teen-no-way years.

  65. NTE

    Wonderful. Happiest birthday to your Monkey

  66. Shelly in Austin

    Happy birthday Monkey!

  67. Angie

    Wonderful post. Happy birthday Monkey!

  68. Beth in IA

    Lovely as always, Mir! Happy birthday Monkey!!

  69. Emily

    Happy Birthday to your young man! I LOVED this post! :)

  70. Em

    Happy Birthday to Monkey!! And Happy happiness to Mir. So glad for you both!

  71. CuriousParty

    Happy birthday Monkey! We had a birthday, too – ours is only three, though. Going on thirty :). Mir, beautifully written, as always.

  72. Liz

    Happy birthday, Monkey!!!

  73. jadine

    Happy Birthday, Monkey. My youngest just turned thirt on the first. Thirts are awesome. And the Moms of thirts are also awesome.

  74. twisterfish

    Beautiful and wonderful words of love.

  75. Becky

    *sniff* Beautiful.

  76. Colleen

    Happy Happy Birthday Monkey!

  77. addy

    Happy Birthday Kind Sir!

  78. Zudie

    That’s a nice start of the new year!
    Happy Birthday Monkey!

  79. Karyn

    Happy (now belated) Birthday, Batman. I hope your year and every moment in it is lived fully, with joy and contentment, comfort and enthusiasm.

  80. Grace

    Beautiful. Happy birthday Monkey!

  81. Chris

    Happy Birthday Batman Monkey! Your mom is rightfully very proud of you!

  82. Michele

    Sometimes getting what you want is harder than you think. Oh my God yes, yes it is.

  83. Heather

    Happy Birthday Monkey!

  84. Tracy B

    So, I’m alittle behind but I couldn’t miss it…♪♫♪HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MONKEYman!!!!♪♫♪

  85. deva

    Happy Thirt to a most awesome Monkey!

  86. Nancy

    Happy Birthday Monkey! I hope Thirt is everything you hope it will be!

  87. Cele

    What a joyous tear provoking letter. Happy Thirt Monkey… a few days late, but no less heart felt.

  88. SheilaC

    Beautiful! And very timely for me, as I brace for our triplet children to join him at the end of March. I very much like the idea of turning “thirt” with no “teen” label, with all the negative expectations so often attached to that. Wonderful idea, Monkey – wishing him a belated happy birthday!

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