Gah. This letter still makes me cry. I wrote it two years ago when my oldest was approaching high school graduation. We used to meet once a week to have lunch to talk about the days ahead and anything else I was afraid I’d forgotten to teach him. More than all of that, I just wanted time to pour into him, listen to him, and follow him in relationship.
The lunches were sometimes good for my soul. Sometimes-they shredded my heart. I had to learn to abandon any agenda and let him lead. I had to embrace the release, and I wanted him to know he had my permission to move into the next season of his life with ease. For a lady who prefers a safe, controlled environment, this release was a true act of faith.
Although he just finished his sophomore year of college, the sentiment that came from the secret place in my soul still exists today. If you have someone graduating into the next season of life [whatever that may be], you will understand the sentiment in this letter. If you are the one transitioning, this is your permission to fly. I’ll cheer for you, friend.
As I drove away from our last lunch together for your senior year, I cried. I wasn’t sad, but deeply grateful. It was similar to the feeling I had when I laid you down in the basinet next to my bed for the first time. I should have been napping along with you, but instead I stared at your tiny frame and wept because you were so precious. It’s almost impossible to put into words the amount and depth of emotions that pulse through the heart of a mother…this mother…your mother.
In the beginning, I only hoped to be a good mama. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I knew I didn’t want to be the opposite of that. My heart adored you from the first time I heard your heartbeat, and I wanted to do right by you. My desire to protect you from danger, to equip you for life, and to establish a good name for you felt “good.” It seemed right, but also a near impossible task.
I learned very quickly that to be good, really good, you often have to be lousy. Nobody wants that. I didn’t want to do horribly to get to good. I wanted to be a good mama right from the start. I soon learned that wanting something meant walking in one direction for a long time before arriving at your destination. It meant falling and choosing to get back up and try again. Sometimes the results of my effort were a complete flop, and that brought great disappointment. However, I had resolve when I had nothing else.
You were my first reason to try, try again. You were not a guinea pig, but you were the first to experience my failures. You were the first to experience the range of emotions and depth of fear contained in my heart. You were the first to call me mom.
I am as excited for your next season as I was for all the other milestones you achieved thus far. Don’t let these tears tell you a different story. You were made for this–of this I am sure. Tears are a funny expression of the variety of feelings that line my heart. Some days, they tell of the sorrow for the many things I got wrong in raising you. The times I raised my voice when I should have drawn you into a bear hug, and the times I held a grudge when I should have just held your hand. Other times, they sing of the joy of watching you grow in stature and wisdom and speak of the admiration I have for your unparalleled tenacity.
I celebrate you as you close this chapter on high school. I will always be the one applauding too loudly and laughing at inappropriate times. I will be the one that thinks you can achieve the ridiculous goals you’ve set or have been placed on you. I will always be the one that thinks you played the best defense, offense, band nonsense, etc. I can’t help but be nearsighted when it comes to you, son.
Forgive me for the times you felt like I babied you, and when you wished I would have given you a little more leeway. That tight grip on your hand was rarely about you. You see, I’ve never been afraid for you to fly, but I’ve always been scared to see you fly away.
I am proud of you. I think you’ve grown up to be a remarkable young man. I accept that our hard seasons, the ones that felt like dry deserts, were necessary to help us appreciate the places of abundance. Thank you for this journey. I promise to keep working on being a “good mama” if you’ll keep working on the strength of your wings.
All My Love,
Please feel free to share this with someone you think might need a little encouragement.