The Best Years


Christian Chiero turns 20 today.


Christian was the kid born happy and he never stopped smiling. Christian Alan - the all boy with a tender heart; the one with whom I shared Midnight Rides - our middle of the night excursions with an irrelevant destination and no purpose except to ride together. The long talks about great business ideas, Jesus and girlfriends; sudden laughter that causes drinks to come through our noses.


Our best memories surround the Eastchester pool and baseball fields. In-the-pool baseball, sneaking behind the Yankees dugout to hear Jeter talk to A-rod, your name in lights at Huntington Park. Your constant is your posse of friends, who I love like my own. They entered our home with a "hey" rather than a knock and I miss that so much. Remember the time you googled 'how to get toilet paper out of trees?' You and your friends came up with the bright-only-in-the-minds-of adolescent-boys idea to start it on fire. Which made a line of trees on Bryn Mawr Drive light up like Tiki torches. The police came. I tried to act angry but had to keep going to my car to laugh. I'm still laughing 7 years later.


And the time I was late to your Baseball Senior Night because I went to the wrong high school (I know, how do you go to the wrong High School on Senior night?!?) but instead of being angry you sent me a text of love and grace that I read 100 times because every mother deserves to be loved like that at least once.


One day, my son, I will look back on my life and measure the good of my time here. At the top of the list will be a son who walks with love, kindness, compassion; who is funny and smart and will change the world. And maybe do one of those business ideas we talked about. I love you my son. It is my joy to sit in the bleachers of your life and cheer.


You and your brother and sister make me remember conversations with other young moms. We would talk about what was the 'best' age in the growth of our children: was it the toddler years of "firsts" or the elementary age years of learning? Or middle school awkward first loves and changing classes? The young adult of high school or the independence of a drivers license?


Today I have the definitive answer: The BEST age is when they are no longer children at all. When your years of childhood investment pays dividends of adult friendship. The best years are when your children no longer need you. But still want you. Most of the time. And that is enough.


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