Within every family, there's always the first child who is the "trailblazer child." There's pressure on that first child because he or she is the one who starts it all for you and kinda becomes your parenting gauge for all the others.
In our family it's my William. He's 13 years old and the oldest of 5 kids. He has 3 brothers right behind him in age – 10, 11, 12 and a little sister, Victoria, who just turned 5 years old. William's always been the typical oldest child, naturally born into the role and has just always been the leader of the pack. I always joke with the others that we're going to mess up completely on William and be totally, over-the-top helicopter parents, and by the time Victoria comes along into teenage-hood, she'll be free as a bird to do anything!
But with William – he's our first and there's something really special and unique about your very first baby. Everything is so new and different and exciting and nerve-racking and amazing and scary.
I remember staying up through the night with him, just watching him sleep and watching his little chest rise up and down.
I remember walking William into school on his first day of Kindergarten and (don't laugh) sitting in the parking lot for the next 4 hours – you know, just in case he needed me.
I remember dropping him off at his very first playdate and just waiting by the door for him to come home. He had never been in a car with anyone who wasn't family, and I was so worried.
And then you start to get your parenting sea legs and you start to let go little by little, but there are still milestones that you hit with your first child and they get you in the gut because – well, it's your first time experiencing it.
First time he took the school bus on his own.
First time he went off to overnight swim camp.
First time he went to a school dance.
First time he slept over at a friend's house.
First time he went off to middle school.
These firsts are BIG firsts because they are the first for you, for him and for your family.
But right now, we've got a big first going on and it's one that I always knew would eventually happen, but I just wasn't sure how I'd personally be with it.
His first girlfriend.
The first one to capture his heart. The first one to make him look in the mirror a little longer. The first one to make him smile and not care about his younger brothers and Dad giving him "trouble" about it. The first one that he really seems to care about and even that piece of it makes my own heart skip a beat, too.
I got lucky with this young woman. She's actually a perfect match for my son.
But it's a new thing for me.
My son has a girlfriend.
I feel a big responsibility as his mom to make sure he's a gentleman and kind and sweet and attentive to her. I feel a responsibility to make sure he respects her and treats her like he treats me and his sister. I feel a responsibility to make sure he acts like himself and doesn't change who he is for her. I feel a responsibility to tell him to send her cards or buy her flowers or draw her something pretty. I feel a responsibility to make sure he's being the best 13 year old boyfriend he can be. He's so innocent and so cute with this girl that it's just adorable to watch them from afar.
But just as important to me, I hope she is just as kind and sweet to him as he is to her. He's also her first boyfriend, so it's a first time thing for her, too. As every mom knows, especially with sons – there are some things you just pick up on instantly. She's sweet to his younger sister (always bonus points). She's always beyond polite to me and my husband. She laughs at my son's jokes (which warms my heart because she gets his humor). She smiles when he walks into a room (only a mom can spot that true sparkle).
First love, if we call it that at this age, is very tender and very sweet.
I'm coming to terms with the fact that he'd rather spend time with her than with me.
I'm coming to terms with the fact that he will text her back in a nanosecond and I'll have a good 5-10 minute wait time.
I'm coming to terms with the fact that a part of his heart belongs to someone else right now.
And that's OK. It's normal.
But I'd be lying if I didn't say that I miss the days of him needing me to help him pick out his clothes or butter his toast or help him pack up his school or swim backpack.
Now the days of me worrying about him in kindergarten seem silly!
Time goes by and milestones come and go – but this one is a BIG one.
And – yup, I've got 4 more of them to experience this "newness" with, too.
This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.