The Making of a Man
I’m parenting in a different stage right now. Aidan will always require lots of hands on care and attention.
But for the moment I’m focused on the making of a man. I won’t say that Liam has been set aside all these years as we’ve been so engrossed with Aidan’s care, because I don’t believe he has been. Suddenly, though, the time of Liam’s leaving feels too close. Sure, I’ve still got two years but after the slow movement of the early days, this feels soon.
I want to insert some sort of running metaphor here, being a runner’s mom and all, but I haven’t really paid attention to the details of the sport. I mostly yell, “Run faster!! Go, go, go!!”
Liam is a distance runner so it looks like just a lot of running in circles to me. I lose count. Certainly the energy changes as the final lap approaches. Liam starts to kick, the crowd gets louder, and there is always a runner who finds another gear and passes others.
And so it is with this making of a man. All the years of snuggling up to read together, baking cookies, reviewing homework projects, were the moments we found our stride. Of course there were also the sleepless nights, hectic afternoons with too many commitments, and volunteering at school which has been the making of a mom.
There was an urgency to those early days of parenting when all of us moms dashed away from the starting line together. How are you potty training? Can you believe he’s reading already? Screw it, I’m using velcro shoes.
I look back and it seems like such a silly race, and yet those one foot in front of the other developmental stages were important to get where we are today.
The energy changes and the final lap approaches, but strangely the crowd isn’t getting louder.
Today’s discussions center around dating, peer pressure, academic responsibility. And the heavy hitters like drug use, consent, date rape, addition. I have to listen harder to find the conversations. There are no more play dates to discuss these topics that feel so pressing now. Are the questions too impolite? Too scary? Are these conversations happening without me?
“Run slower. Walk, linger, stay, ”
No means no, wait until you’re married, and say no to drugs do little to equip young adults to participate in a culture of confusing messages and I want to finish strong as a parent. It’s slightly terrifying but I don’t want to be stuck with my head in the sand.
I’m finding that this is my moment to kick. I still have time to reach the finish line but can see it fast approaching. There are things I know I’ve done well. Liam has a strong sense of the importance of family. He knows we’re accepting of all kinds of people, that different is not bad.
He’s polite. But is he kind? He’s smart. But is he thoughtful?
Of course I’ll find in two years when I send Liam off to college that the finish line isn’t a finish line at all. I have no idea what life will look like then and I can only hope that all those laps we ran together, me setting the pace, sometimes dragging him, will have adequately prepared him for the next race.
I will always be in the crowd cheering him on. He will always be re-making himself as a man. One step, one decision, one moment at a time.
“Go, Liam, go.”
Speaking of consent, I think slam poetry is going to be my new conversation starter. Check this out...