My Bar-Hopping Baby Boy

Ryan’s birthday margaritas.

(Blog me MAYbe Day 3)

My son, Ryan, turned 21 a couple weeks ago, while away at college. It was a busy Saturday, and that night he and his friends celebrated at Chili’s where he was carded for the first time when he ordered a margarita. He sent a picture to my phone, just to say “Look, Mom!” Even though he knows I’d rather he didn’t impair his brain and that I worry. He wants to show me he’s not a kid anymore.

Oy…looking kinda wasted.

Last night, his friend sent a picture of Ryan drinking an appletini on his very first round of legal, participatory barhopping. Ryan texted me periodically throughout the evening, telling me next about a chocotini, then a shot that tasted like an oatmeal cookie, and finally a pear-flavored beer.  I was a good mom, telling him to have fun but be careful, asking about a designated driver, warning him he really shouldn’t mix drinks like that.

But, I was thinking of my baby boy who loved to cuddle, who wanted me to rock him and sing him lullabies every night. I thought of the little boy who, when he was three, cracked his head on a windowsill at preschool and was happily eating a bowl of peas when I came to take him to the hospital for stitches. When he was four, he broke his elbow and withstood the pain stoically, happy to have his new Crayola stamp markers to draw with.

I smiled, remembering that when I had the flu, he rubbed my back and said he would take care of me while Daddy was at work. When he was seven or eight, he fed his little brother dinner and brought me a bowl of applesauce and cottage cheese as I fought through a nauseating migraine. I wondered how his head would feel in the morning.

Ryan, at 7.

I remembered that in elementary school, he whipped through his schoolwork but couldn’t stay in his seat. His grades were high, but his social skills “needed improvement.” He was a little boy who couldn’t understand why he had attention problems, but earned straight A’s through four years of high school.  I thought of the boy who didn’t want to live in a dorm away from home, but who has thrived at college and come into his own — who helps run the Honors program and teaches classes to incoming freshmen.

When the text came in about the oatmeal cookie shot, I was thinking of the boy who loved everything about the world between October and December–the music, the food, the holidays, the family gatherings. Here’s what he said: “So I had a shot called an oatmeal cookie. It tasted of Christmas spirit.”

I had to laugh! It was so Ryan. So like the little boy.

Do all moms go through this, I wonder? I went to the same college he’s going to, and I likely went to some of the same bars, doing the same thing (though I would have exchanged the margaritas for daiquiris and passed on pear-flavored beer). I probably did it younger too, because the drinking age was lower then. But, I also know what choices I made and what chances I took in various drunken states. I want to protect him from that, to guide him and help him make good decisions.

Ryan and Christian.

After 21 years of being his mom, I can’t seem to turn that part of me off. But I realize that now I have to trust in the raising of him, trust that we did a good job. And when I think a little more about his texting last night, I think maybe there is more to it than just wanting to show me he’s not a little boy anymore. Maybe he just wanted to share.

About Jeannette Monahan

A writer sidetracked by life, with a husband and two boys who shine brighter than Arizona sunshine. Visit me at my blogs: or You are always welcome.
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10 Responses to My Bar-Hopping Baby Boy

  1. MCV EGAN says:

    Your son sounds wonderful…surely a reflection of how wonderful you are. I had my son late in life and as I thank the stars above teenage years are a passing phase (fast one i can only hope) my contemporaries are grandmothers or have college kids such as you…I find that it is scary how fast it goes…contradictory I know..only human! Happy early mother’s day and enjoy every text he is sharing!
    M.C.V. Egan

    • Oh, thank you! He really is a good kid. My other son, also a teenager, is too, and I think I got very lucky in that the teenage years for both of them have not been too, too crazy. And you are so right–it’s scary how fast it goes–0 to 21 in no time flat! Happy Mother’s Day to you, too. And I enjoyed checking out your website; your book sounds interesting and is going on my list! 🙂

      • M.C.V. Egan says:

        Thanks for checking out the website. If you use the contact form on the website I will be happy to send you a free pdf. copy of The Bridge of Deaths. How very cool you got easy teen be certain mine are far better than many I have observed…but it is not as easy as I had hoped! 🙂

      • Wow, thanks! I will head over there right now. I think some of what makes it hard is watching them grow up and away, but hopefully not too far away.

  2. pharphelonus says:

    There’s a lot to be said for those text messages, about him and about you.
    You done good, and he was just reassuring you of that in his 21-year-old way.

  3. emjayandthem says:

    1) you will always be his Mom 🙂
    2) He absolutely wanted to share and
    3) I just got off the phone with our 26 year old who wanted to plan Mother’s Day.

    Good sons, they’re like that. Good Moms are too.

    hugs! MJ

  4. It’s heartwarming to hear how close you! It’s truly amazing that he feels comfy updating you on his barhopping. And that he wanted to share his big moments of being 21 with you. 🙂 You raised a wonderful son. 🙂

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