I'm so glad I got my boy; I'm also glad I only got one.
I used to say this all the time when my son was little. He was so different from my girls. It was fun watching the world through his eyes, but it was also difficult. He seemed to be on a search and destroy mission. It seemed like every room he walked into was new territory to conquer. He scanned the area for weakness and then unleashed an incredible force for one so small. He broke more things than his four sisters combined.
Not that he was intentionally destructive, he just had a different way of exploring and discovering. And he didn't have a natural tendency to control his strength. He got so excited about things and ran head first into them, sometimes literally. Then, when he saw them broken, he felt so sad. He didn't mean to.
I can still see his little two-year old face, round, with a pouty lip. Big tears welling up in his eyes. Because even though he was powerful, he was tender.
Maintaining that balance has been a goal of mine. Stay powerful, but be tender. Sometimes it's gone well; other times, not so much.
But raising a man isn't easy -- and that's what I'm doing. If I can remember that in the tough moments, then I can get through it. And so can he.
I remember when he was a cub scout. As his birthday approached, he still had a lot to do to receive his patch (whichever year, it was always the same). We'd begin a drive to finish in time. He'd start with energy and before long decide he didn't want to do all the work and it would be fine to just not get it this time. But it wasn't fine for me.
My brothers didn't do much in scouting. Neither did my husband. There was no big family push and I had no clue what I was doing. But I felt like it was important to finish what he started and to believe in himself. I felt like it was important for him to learn to do hard things so that he could be proud of his efforts.
So we'd push through. And he'd finish just in time, sometimes yelling, crying, and fighting with me all the way. And then, when he was done, my little boy would thank me for making him do it. I can still see that face, too. My grinning eight-year old smiling at me as he received his award. An award he earned. An award he was proud of.
There have been many times since when he wanted to quit things. I'd be lying if I said I pushed him to finish all of them. But I push when he's expressed a desire and then tries to back out because it's hard. He says he wants to get his Eagle. I will do whatever I can to make sure he follows through.
The other night I sewed his Star patch on his boy scout uniform. This shirt is so much bigger. He's fifteen now and practically a man. He did so much more of the work under his own direction. He doesn't need me as much as he used to.
But I still sew on the patches. And I do so with honor and pride. I am so proud of the young man he is becoming. I want him to be proud to stand in that uniform. As proud as I am to see him do so.
He speaks of joining the Marines one day. There's a long time before that could happen, but I can already see it in my mind. I'm not going to lie, if he changes his mind before then, I'm probably not going to try to talk him back into it. The idea scares me.
But if he doesn't change his mind, I will be honored. I will support his decision. I will sew on patches or pin on badges as long as he will let me, until some young woman takes my place.
And I will know that I've raised a fine young man.