LETTERS TO MY SON: growing up
Your room is crammed with boxes, overflowing with piles of towels and sheets and supplies. Teetering towers of t-shirts and extra socks take up every square foot of space in what has been your man-cave for many years.
In just a few days you will sweep all that messiness into the back of your car and drive off to make a home of your own.
When you leave I will take all my mama-grief and scrub every corner of that square of space. I’ll patch holes where you poked pins into the wall to hang your posters. Cob-webs will come down, memories will be loosened, all our long talks will echo as I dust and shine and try to find a way to place all those memories somewhere safe.
And every moment I’ll be wishing I could have stopped the years, that I could go back again and tuck you into bed at night, run my fingers through that bristly shaved head you insisted on every summer when being a boy meant sweating and swimming and certainly not messing with such a silly thing as hair.
I’ll breath deeply of the scent of manhood and remember the boy you were. The nights of worrying that diabetes would rob you of the freedom you craved. The mornings of waking you for school and answering that question that came bubbling to the surface the moment you opened your eyes: Where is everyone?
How I loved your love for all of us! Your determination to keep connected, to know where your brother was and what your sisters were up to. Your full-fledged involvement in each member of this crazy crew we call a family.
I will miss you Matthew. And the tears rim my eyes even as I push hard to put them back.
This growing up is good, so why does my heart grieve?
And I know the answer, dare I say it?
I grieve because the full birthing of love always brings loss.
To birth you into the man you are called to be I must lose the boy you were. And I know because I’ve done this before. I know things will never be the same. That the closeness that comes from living and laughing and making you meals and waking you early and worrying when you’re late… will change.
You see, dear son of mine, I have loved being your mom. And I’m a mama still, I know, but it’s the every day I have loved best.
The serving and the soothing and the listening and the hoping and the teaching and the reading and the cleaning up of little boy messes and the wiping away of big-boy tears.
I have loved how you bound up the stairs , and how your bring your friends home and crowd into your tiny room to talk about who-knows-what and pretend I don’t know that you’re talking about girls. And maybe they like you and maybe they don’t and oh how you and all your friends who are men now wish they would and someday… someday someone will.
Matthew, I have been writing these letters about that someone. That someone who will like you and love you and hope for you forever.
May she relish who you are as I have.
I love you Matt,