When I was 20…

When I was 20 years old, I married my wife.

When I was 20 years old, we found out…we were going to be parents!

And now that baby boy, today, is 20 years old! How exactly, is this possible?

This man we raised is no longer a boy. He’s no longer even a teenager.

He’s 6′ 6″ tall. He has a beard. He is 20 years old.

I remember his baby giggles, his chubby ankles, and his first “ick” as he pointed to a letter “i.” His pre-school crush, his grade school sports, his bass playing days. His first love, his High School glory. His first day at college.

He is 20 years old. He’s not who he will be quite yet, but he is not who he has been either. And neither am I!

My eldest son has seen more versions of me than any of my other children: student, barista, waiter, manager, chaplain, pastor, elementary school teacher. I’ve been many versions of me and he has seen it all.

And I have seen him grow into adulthood.

He is 20 years old. He is becoming. He is compassionate and kind, capable and sharp, independent and mature beyond his years (whenever he wants to be!). He can call and make his own appointments. He’s been doing this since he was 17 years old. 17!

I can dream him into so many possibilities. I can imagine him with co-workers, collaborating around a conference table, solving problems, dreaming his own dreams. I can just see him there!

Wherever he goes, I’m rooting for him, because he is my son. And today, he is 20 years old. Happy Birthday, Leo.


For the month of March this blog is all “slice of life.” #sol21

15 thoughts on “When I was 20…

  1. I have a 20 year old, too, so I knew I’d love this post. What a loving tribute. I love how we learn about Leo, but also, a bit about you, too – this line: “My eldest son has seen more versions of me than any of my other children” – so so lovely. Happy day to Leo! Happy becoming-a-parent-day to you!

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  2. Happy birthday Leo! I have a daughter with a March birthday, and I love looking back on my posts from other March 19ths. Every year, I’m like, how did she get so old? And how did I get so old? Love the reflections and the present celebrations woven together.

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  3. I love how you bookend this post, connecting the intro and conclusion. When you talk about how he’s been there for all the many different versions of you, it makes me think of “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros.

    Funny how the years can seem so long while we live them but so short when they have passed.

    Great slice!

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  4. Happy Birthday to your son. It’s amazing being a parent of a grown-up adult and seeing him/her morph into their own selves. This post captures that sentiment of watching your toddler saying “ick” to that adult who is “becoming.” I hope you share this touching post with Leo at some point. He deserves to hear these beautiful words.

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  5. Tim, what a lovely tribute to your son as he begins his third decade of life! Time flies, doesn’t it? I love how you say he is not who he will be and is not who he has been. The journey of life is ever-changing and the opportunities bring us to new places all the time. Your picture at the end is just the cherry on top of a great story and thoughts on watching a child grow up.

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  6. Watching a child grow up is one of life’s greatest blessings. I love that you wrote this tribute to your son as he begins his third decade of life. The notion of not being who we will be but not being who we have been is an interesting thought about the concept of the role of the journey and how we unfold as people throughout the process. The picture is adorable – – what a great way to share!

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  7. What a fantastic post. I hope your son has a great birthday. Time goes by so fast, and I like how you’ve documented your past as well as his in the piece. The next 20 is a whole new adventure with all that it can bring as he starts his own family. Enjoy the time!

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  8. This was such a beautiful phrase- you “dream him into so many possibilities”. He’s such a good marker for you to measure out the different place you’ve been in your life. My mom’s post today referenced how “driving lessons” were happening, so she knew how long ago the memory was. I hope Leo has a great next few years of entering the ‘real world’ – it seems like he already has it pretty figured out!

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  9. What a wonderful tribute to two lives who have grown up together! I love how you compare how well you each know the other, have watched each other grow. I wish you both many many more. He sounds like he is a lucky guy to have you as a dad!

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  10. I love this for so many reasons. First of all, what a great mentor text. The way you have moved 20 through the beginning and all the life steps along the way together is such a delight. I had to smile as you said he has seen the most versions of you. That is true about our oldest kids, isn’t it?! Happy 20th to your son.

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  11. It’s kind of funny how your life changed so much when you were 20 and now your son is going to be 20! I imagine it feels significant–but I like how you entertain so many possibilities for your son–an invite to choose his own path.

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