Dear Son of Mine on Graduation Eve,
I love that my heartbeat was the first one you heard and that my hand the first to hold yours. That God entrusted broken me with you is humbling and overwhelming.When I first became a mother to you I had no idea. About so many things.For starters:I had no idea that you would say some form of “mom” or “mama” or “mommy” a dizzying number of times a day. Every. Day. For. Years. Or that I would follow you around for months on end cleaning up messes. (Eventually I got a clue that “messes” were a stage not to be outgrown. I surrendered and began to make messes WITH you. I love that part. You taught me that messy memories are the best.)
I didn’t know that I would hum the tunes of Disney movies daily. Or that I would pretend I know how to dance with you and your sister in the kitchen. You took my hand and led me to those places and it awakened something in me. Thank you. I had no idea that you, my blue-eyed boy, would humor the young girl in me and find a jacket and a flower and play “wedding.” Your toddler hand would take mine and dance. Your smile reflected that of your father’s and it halted me. Your scraped knees and tree-climbing and endless curiosity exhausted me some days. But I found my true calling in those moments. You led me by the hand to the mission of being a mom.
I had no idea that in 3rd grade, 7 years into our dance, you would flash your toothless grin over your backpack in the hall of that elementary school. And that your doing so would undo me. That I would fight to breathe through tears as I walked to my car, knowing that this was a milestone. One that needed to be fully felt and photographed. And held. The only camera I had was my heart, and so there it has stayed. Frozen in time. Just like the image I hold of those handfuls of flowers you gave me. Over and over, plucked from the backyard. Dandelions and daisies were never so beautiful.
I had no idea that laundry would overtake me. And that I would lose some of myself in it. That some days I would feel like that unmatched sock, wondering where I belonged. Existing between the changing, the feeding, the shopping, the cleaning, the rocking, the bottles and bibs.
You didn’t stay in any of those stages very long. You moved on and I jogged alongside you. I covered myself up in room-mom duties. I researched creative snacks for Valentine’s Day and marked school picture days on my calendar. I sewed Halloween costumes. I re-learned multiplication tables and wandered around school carnivals while you tried to win a fish or a new friend.
I didn’t know that I would see your passions before you did. And that I would push you out of your comfort zone toward them. I often doubted myself, but never you. I had no idea that my brain would fail to work when you were sick or that my heart would ache alongside anything that injured yours. Or that I would Google “how to treat a gecko bite” and other ridiculous scenarios that I had no clue how to handle.
The calendar spins around a few more times. You are a teenager.
Boy of mine? We play tennis. And I remember my Chris Everett racquet and how it felt to hold it in my hand on that court when I was 12. I sit on the edge of your bed as you play guitar and I try to pluck a few insights about your day out of you. I pack lunches. I pack your tennis bag. I make sure you have pants that fit.
And I pack more lunches.
I have laughed with you until my stomach hurt and my eyes watered.
I have cried. A lot. But in your presence I am mostly strong. I try hard to have conviction and answers to questions and snacks when you’re hungry and appointments when you feel sick.I have worried. A lot. But in your presence I am decisive. I calm you and have courage and your favorite dinner when you have a bad day.
I supply a fresh box of Kleenex and we go out for sushi when you are confused.
It’s what I do. It has become who I am. A mom.
And now, you stand in our kitchen before your last day of school as you have a thousand mornings. We measure each other by the fireplace. Suddenly you are taller than me.I only cry after you have swept past me, backpack flung and murmuring ” Don’t forget that I have graduation practice this afternoon.” And finally, through the now-closed door:”Love you mom.”
I stop right here in the kitchen where dirty dishes are piled and remnants of your morning routine surround me. To be thankful.
Because the truth is that at each stage you have blessed me in ways immeasurable. In fistfuls of flowers and doodles and the day-to-day knowing of you. Through your guitar music and all the hours I have sat on bleachers cheering for you. Your crayons and concerts have marked my place in the world.
It’s absurd how much I love you.
I had no idea that my entire world could abandon its axis and jump to revolve around you. And how much of me it would take to do so. And how now, teetering on the edge of you being on your own, I can’t imagine my axis jumping again when you are gone and on your own.
The dance is changing again. I miss the days when the scariest thing we did was climb the tall slide or go to the deep end of the swimming pool. It’s a big, confusing world out there. I want to look into your sweet face of yesterday and say “I’m sorry for disappointing you.” Because I’m not nearly as perfect as you saw me at 4 and 6 years old.
Can I tell you a secret that I tried to keep from you but is the truth? I am riddled with flaws. I stumbled into motherhood with lots of baggage. You have discovered some of this already. You now know that I bake (a lot) when I’m angry or sad. You scatter from the kitchen in self-defense, returning to help me consume the culinary manifestations of my mood. You’ve also surely noticed that I have ADD and at the same time I am a perfectionist. Which means I like things perfect. But not for very long. Ridiculous, I know.
My mother’s prayer today is to be able to point you to the ONE who will always have grace and forgiveness when mine has run dry. To show you how empty we need to be to allow the filling of the Holy Spirit, and to introduce you to the ONE who doesn’t get tired or bitter. To run to our God. Our God who never gets angry, even when you ask what’s for dinner or where you can you find your khaki pants. For the hundredth time. Because the reality of being a good Mom to you? It is a painful and beautiful dance. My job is to encourage you to cling to a loving God who can really CAN patch your scabbed knees and steady you when shaken. The Father who is an incredible dancer and the REAL finder of lost things. And the Book that has all the answers that I don’t.
These truths might be just word arrows now. But I pray they will point you in the right direction.
Anything good I have added to your journey has come from Him, Beloved boy of mine
Thank you for painting my world with finger paints and firefly chases and ferris wheels. And for dancing with me in the kitchen.
I love you to the moon and back,