My second born, Luke, turned 17 this week, as the world sees it, the last year of childhood. The irony of being someone’s child is that you will never know how much you are loved until you aren’t that child anymore. As a kid, you don’t understand why your mom can remember the exact time of your birth, or how it caused such stress because you used to choke on everything she put in front of you. As with most any mom, it’s impossible for me to look at my 6’6 inch man-child without seeing my Thomas the Train obsessed little guy…the calmest, easiest kid. You could take him with you anywhere from day one, no problem. In his middle years, his favorite line for me has been
“How is stressing about it going to help mom?”
I think junior year may have altered his thinking just a little, but his blood pressure is still shockingly low.
It’s a heavy realization that I have a boy, who is almost a man. I have been thinking a lot about how a strong woman can raise an equally strong man, when strength is perceived and valued so much differently between the sexes. I don’t get lost in small things like who opens the door (even though I still teach him to do so, because I still value a gentleman) or who pays, because financial independence is crucial to anyone’s confidence and self sustainability no matter who you are. But, I do have a few ideas that I feel have positive impact that I hope don’t get lost in teenage translation and the business of everyday life…even if it gets me dubbed “philosopher mom” sometimes.
Understand that you were born into a power position in this world. Of course this is nothing to feel guilty about, but find gratitude and be wise and compassionate with what you have been given. From day one, you have had things that others work entire lifetimes for, and yet most may never have what you have today. You have already walked the halls of incredible educational establishments and I am confident that will continue. Allow that knowledge to build your perspective and connect you with those who have not had the same experience as you have. Don’t let it separate you or cause you to look down on anyone. Recognize the struggle that others experience that you have been spared just based on your birth, and try to put yourself in their shoes instead of just walking in your own…it will enrich your life in ways you can’t even imagine. Above all, be a leader who never abuses the power that sits naturally on your shoulders.
Feel all of your feelings. True peace comes when we know how to wrestle with our more difficult feelings because a stronger and better version of ourselves is on the other side. One of the best parts of life as we get older is to continue the learning process when it’s not a mandate. Be an observer, and even a believer, in life’s twists and turns. Even when they seem unpleasant, they are leading us to our destiny. Never turn to any substance that dulls your senses instead of feeling things, trust that you are strong enough to handle what comes at you in your God given natural state and you will be. When we work to know the root of any sadness that we encounter, we discover how to be simply and sustainably happy.
Learn how to manage conflict, not everything fits neatly in your plan. There is always struggle in a big life and moments of conflict give way to deeper relationships and understanding if we have the courage to navigate it with strength and respect. Great minds do not always think alike, and learning to value their differences brings so much beautiful contrast and more amazing ideas into this world. If you think you are right all the time, please start to wonder.
My favorite thing about the passing of this birthday was what I realized as I was searching for pictures I wanted to post to celebrate. Luke you are a natural protector, and it makes me so proud. The safety you can offer with your gentle spirit in this world is so deeply needed. My hope is that you always protect from a place of confidence and in a way that makes your world and that of those around you a bigger, brighter place. I love you to the moon and back, keep hugging, jumping and leading the way you do, you have an amazing ride ahead of you.