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Stuff 'N Nonsense The First Son
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On May 22, the Oakdale Junior High eighth graders will don caps and gowns and accept a diploma signifying their successful graduation from one stage of their lives to the next in their onward journey to eventual adulthood - and my oldest son will be one of them.

Even as I write this, my throat closes with emotion as an odd burst of tears threaten to spill from my eyes and soak my laptop with salty moisture. I have no doubt that as my son takes the stage I will dissolve into a display of weeping that will embarrass us both but it's inevitable as he is my first son, the one I cut my teeth on as a young parent and the one that I share a unique relationship with apart from my other children.

Sebastian, named in part after a heavy metal rock god that I secretly lusted after with my immature, teenage heart, (and if you know the band he played with, you were no doubt a fan, as well!) was born when I was barely out of my teens. At the time I thought I was so mature, so wise, and so ready to have a baby. Now, as I look back, I realize why my mother sobbed when I told her I was pregnant.

I wasn't ready.

I don't think any woman-child is ready to be a mother at the tender age of 20 but as fate would have it, my husband and I plunged into the world of adulthood early and fast, stumbling and learning as we went, sometimes with disastrous results.

In fact, I think it's safe to say that for a while I felt more like a kid playing house than a wife and a mother. There were times I resented having to stay home while my friends went out and did things typical to young adults our age; there were times I wished I'd made different choices in my life. But even as I lamented the abrupt end of my own childhood, when I looked at my son with his beautiful, impossibly dark eyes, dimpled grin and sweet disposition, he was the one thing I couldn't regret.

Sebastian was a gorgeous baby. He was gentle and quiet; the perfect child for a couple who knew nothing about raising one and even less about being good parents.

Invariably, we made mistakes. My heart aches for the mistakes we can't take back, for the emotional scars we may have inflicted on a child we love so much. I suppose all parents feel this way but I think with the first child we feel it so much more acutely.