Saturday, August 16

On being away from home and turning sixteen: a letter to my son

Dear Josh,
 
I missed your sixteenth birthday.  I'm sure you recall - or maybe it wasn't so bad because you spent the whole day with your friend watching movies.  Godzilla and Guardians of the Galaxy, you've said.  It's no surprise to me that Godzilla was your favorite of the two.  That atomic green monster holds a special place in your heart.

It was very difficult for me to be away from you when you crossed this threshold in your life.  I remember turning sixteen, being sixteen, and wondering when I would feel like I was actually sixteen.  When I was sixteen, I went and found my first job, I started driving myself around, and I pretty much felt like I was in the wrong skin.  I'm only now, at 37, beginning to feel in the right skin.  Or at least comfortable with the skin I'm in.  But you - well, you don't seem to have a problem being you.  I can't explain how very happy that makes me feel, how very reassured.  Because it can be really hard not to like yourself.  When I see that you do like yourself, most of the time, I feel like maybe I didn't totally screw this mom thing up, like maybe - somehow - despite all the missed moments, raised voices, frustrations, and mistakes, I did okay (so far).  Like maybe, after all, loving you was enough to make up the difference for what I've done wrong.

Sixteen marks a turning point for me, too.  I can feel the clock ticking now, drawing you ever closer to the edge of my nest.  Your wings are almost too big to keep folded and you're testing them out, stretching them before the big leap over the side.  You're almost through high school and you're planning and waiting to serve your mission.  You're driving sometimes and taking more responsibility for your actions and health.  You're taller than all of us, by far, and still going.  Your voice has gone deeper, your eyes more thoughtful, and you've started planning your first date.  At times it is hard for me to resolve the two pictures of you that I hold in my mind: the you that once fit in the hollow of my arms, and the you that can now hold me in yours.  And it's wonderfully bittersweet.

This week, off on my own taking care of other people's kids, I ached inside for my children.  For your sweet, silly self and your sister.  For the arguments and teasing, for the messes and noise.  A week away from home made me realize just how very blessed I truly am, made me see that all I ever need is right here in this place where I call you son, and you call me mother, and we belong to each other.  The days and weeks and months and years will roll on, without stopping, and though soon (sooner than I'm prepared for) you'll leap from this nest and take flight, I will still keep this place for you.  Here, in the hollow of my heart, where you were born.

Love,

Mom

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have been and continue to be a great mom! Love you.