It has to be one of life’s great paradoxes.

How is it that seven days crawl by but 13 YEARS arrive in an instant?

That’s what I pondered this morning, beginning this day as I have every June 15th for the last 12 years. Of course this day 13 years ago I was screaming bloody murder, vowing never to have sex with my husband again and promising to give my upper teeth to any doctor gracious and kind enough to get this kid out of me. I was tired, fat and hungry because a steady diet of ice chips wasn’t cuttin’ it.

A few hours later it was over and by over I mean just beginning; Cole had made his entry. But see I thought I had it all figured out; working mom, holdin’ it down with one kid, how much harder could one more be? You know what? I should have slapped some sense into myself for even thinking that. Because you see, the work doesn’t double with a second child, it increases exponentially and when you add a kid like Cole, that’s a category 4 storm. That’s not all bad, you understand and it’s served to keep his middle-aged parents on their toes. So in a bit of reflection, here are the five things I love about my boy.

 *COLE IS HEADSTRONG: I should have known the day we were discharged from the hospital. Without going into great detail, we got our orders to leave but there was one thing that needed to happen first; Cole had to pee. Yep, he had to soil a diaper. One, teeny, tiny, newborn diaper. That was at 7 am. At 4pm the little bugger was holding onto his urine as though it was a drought. Finally, after hours of nursing, his baby bladder could take no more and he relented. But it was our first indication that this kid and Frank Sinatra were separated at birth. His motto then and now is, “I’m gonna do it my way so you’d better get out of my way.”

*COLE HAS A WICKED SENSE OF HUMOR: You can handle anything life throws your way if you know how to laugh and Cole knows how to do that. But he’s also adept at making others laugh, which in turn puts them at ease. In the past, that’s resulted in countless party invites. In the future I’m sure it will get him out of countless close calls with teachers (I hope).

*COLE HAS A QUICK TEMPER: What’s to love about that, you ask? Well unlike his mother who takes a long time to process anger (who in turn got it from her father) Cole has a flash temper that disappears as quickly as it crops up. The other day we were talking in the car about an incident he had with a kid in school. I said, “Oh so you’re cool now? Friends?” Cole looked over and then scolded me. “Mom you are such an adult. You need to learn to deal with these things the way kids do. You get mad and then you get over it.” Wow. Deep. And true.

*COLE IS TENDER: Cole would never admit this because he’s 13 and that’s just not cool. But there are still moments where I catch him at just the right time, watching TV or reading together, where he’s absent-mindedly holding my hand. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it makes my heart sing, yet sad too because I know those moments are fleeting. So I focus real hard to stay in the moment, so I will remember them always.

*COLE BRINGS ME JOY: Okay important distinction. He doesn’t always make me happy, like when he’s giving me the push back on any number of things (see number 1) but I am always thrilled that he is a part of my life. I had no preconceived ideas about who was going to pop out of my womb, in fact it didn’t matter; I knew I would be blessed. And that’s exactly how I see my kids. I’m the luckiest woman alive to have these two as teachers and I learn and grow everyday, not just as a parent but also as a person (see number 3) in their presence.

Look, I know the next several years are not going to be easy; heck I’ve already seen flashes of what’s to come and am working on a wicked case of TMJ in anticipation. I’ll get through it, with Buff’s help and the medicinal properties of wine. I’d love to say it’s all fun; it’s not. It’s hard work and the thought of one or both of these kids in therapy talking about how I screwed them up is enough to keep me awake at night. But I do the best I can, relying on the tools at my disposal; love, compassion and the occasional grounding. So far, they seem to be working. Check back with me when Cole enters year 14.