I want to rush in and fix it, to step in and fight my son’s battle for him – if necessary, knock some heads together.
“No,” my husband says, “don’t do it.”
He looks in my eyes straight. Not blinking. Deep into the places the mother bear no longer slumbers, who has awakened to protect, to maim, to defend.
“We will support him from beside, from a position of strength,” my husband says, “not rush ahead of him, putting him in a position of weakness.”
He says it quietly, but there is nothing quiet about what is going on inside my heart. I struggle with this truth. Gone are the days when I held my son’s hand to keep him from running across the street. Gone are the days when I entered a new classroom to meet the teacher first, while he followed cautiously behind.
At seventeen, our son stands on the brink of adulthood.
We talk about options, the three of us, he, the decision maker, we, now, the advisors.
“You could try this,” we say, “or this.”
“What do you think of this idea?”
“Are you prepared for this outcome?”
“What will you do if this happens?”
Our son wrestles — with himself, his needs, his pain, his boundaries, and I discover once again what every mother knows– you can cut the umbilical cord, but still be heavy with child.
For three days we talk and struggle into the night, eyes bleary, hearts worn, and darkness, darkness that is always present in the place of death, the last gasp of a dream, the withering of expectations.
I am powerless to put a bandage on his owie and kiss it better. Finally he decides.
“This is what I’m going to do,” he says, and formulates a plan.
No longer bent. No longer confused. He sprawls out on the bed, relaxed, a smile on his face. He looks five thousand pounds lighter.
“What happened?” I ask.
“I remember who I am,” he says.
I remember who I am. He says it simple, like it is an easy conclusion, but I know people who are three times his age who have never had the courage to declare who they are.
And who they are not.
I am reminded of a story in the book of beginnings, in Genesis 32:22-31, of a man who wrestles. He wrestles in the darkness with God, with his past, and with himself and when the night of wrestling is done, he discovers his true name.
Sometimes we can only find our true selves in the wrestling dark places. And when we discover who we are, we know what to do.
“I remember who I am,” my son says and looking at him, I remember who I am too.
I am the mother of a boy becoming a man.
By Lynne Hartke, at Teeter Tottering
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, Pop Culture Geek