Mother and Sons
My oldest son officially passed me on our family’s height chart earlier this winter. The chart is a piece of wood on which my husband carefully measured and accurately replicated the pencil marks that were on a wall at our old house. While there are still 10 inches or so to reach John’s mark, a few months ago marked the moment when I could no longer look down on my son.
It is wonderful to see the young man he is becoming. It’s bittersweet to say goodbye to the little boy.
Our youngest child is also a son. The past few weeks he has raced full tilt out of babyhood and toddlerdom and straight into Little Boy. He took out a trash bag from the kitchen last week! It was twice as big around as he is, but he marched over to where it lay waiting for an older sibling and proclaimed, “Me take this outside for you.” He wrestled it across the whole house, through the front door, and only failed to lift it up into the trash bin because the bin is twice his height. It was certainly not for want of trying!
Saying goodbye to my last baby…or, in reality, realizing I said goodbye a while ago and didn’t know it… is again such a tug between joy and melancholy.
Boys becoming Men
Tonight I stumbled upon an old piece of writing. It captures my memory and emotions from a moment around five years ago, when my oldest son mowed the lawn for the first time. Reading it now, when that little boy’s head is no longer under my chin and my littlest boy is similarly growing up, fills me with a bit of wistfulness.
I also am full of so much thankful wonder at the way God continues to answer our prayers for the growth, body and soul, of all our sons and daughters! May we never leave off praying for His Spirit to continue to do His good work in their hearts!
I made a few edits to my stream-of-consciousness run-ons, but mostly this is still straight from my heart several years ago.
He Mowed the Grass Today
He mowed the grass today. Papa helped start the motor and cut in the edges, and taught the tricks to turns and reversing and even trimming.
There’s something almost agrarian in the moment. There’s a link of fathers to sons to fathers caring for the land, toiling and weeding and tilling the garden in which they are placed.
There are sweat and dirt and straining muscles and the grin of a boy getting a glimpse of being a man.
He comes in nonchalant. “No big deal, Mom,” say the shrugging shoulders, “it’s just what big boys do.” The sparkle in the eye shares his secret joy and craves affirmation.
She doesn’t hold her smile back, visibly grinning as big as he. Heart swelling, in this moment she wants to cheer and parade, yet holds back and just gives a simple high five.
High five turns into a hug, a little boy growing strong and tall but not yet too grown to want to avoid a hug and the approval of Mommy.
It’s a moment: frozen, beautiful, fleeting, eternal. That moment when a mother holds her boy, his head under her chin, gangly arms and grassy knees and stinky feet all askew.
There’s brown hair a bit erratically cut from when she attempted at-home-cut thrift. He hasn’t yet learned vanity, still innocent enough to, artless and confident, wear crooked hair.
Dimples, oh those crevices that spontaneously peek out in random moments, but not with every smile. They are fleeting reminders of his father’s boyish grin that sometimes overtakes his more serious and mature demeanor.
There’s the smell of grass and skateboard and asphalt and a bit of gasoline from his first manly experience.
In this moment, a rubber band of memory expands, and she hugs to her heart each precious boy he has been: the little one who fell off his bike for the first time; the crying child overwhelmed by the frustration of a difficult problem; the flamboyant boy laughing over scatological humor and the mischief of Garfield; the Jedi with his light saber fights and violent deaths; the preschooler whose cape belied his ability to fly off the sofa; the toddler worn out from tickles, chubby with sleepy eyes and lanky hair falling over forehead and ears; the rebel, defiantly convinced he’s right, but needing a reason to yield to peace.
He becomes again, for a moment, a milky bundle, tight fists pressed to nourishment as he suckles with wonderful concentration. Chubby thighs, rolly belly. So tiny, now she sees, even in his larger-than-average infant size.
The rubber band snaps, contracts. He grows. Her heart grows. It’s again the boy-child with all the possibilities of the man.
She clings a moment more, knowing sweat and chest hair and deep voice and head and shoulders taller growth will soon take away this moment. So for now she appreciates the pollinated hair tickling her nose, the dirt smudging her lap and the floor.
She drinks in each drop of snakes and snails and puppy dog tails. Her baby. This boy. The man he will be.
He is hers. He is loved.