Over the last several months I've had different opportunities to let Zack spread his wings a bit. Opportunities to grow on his own on camping trips with the Boy Scouts, ski trips with cousins and traveling with family friends this week. We have an unspoken system of sorts, I do the laundry and gathering of things, he does the packing and organizing. We make a good team. As this unfolds each time, my heart is pierced a little more that he's growing up and I have to remind myself again and again, I WANT him to grow up. I want him to not need me. I want him to be self-sufficient.
It really does a number on my mother heart and it is currently so well illustrated with my bookends. Currently, on one end, I've got Luke, who I can't take my eyes off for one second or he's out the front door...probably naked. On the other end, I've got Zack, who is capable of making his own dinner and doing his own laundry. I'm pushing Luke to grow, pulling on Zack to stop and realizing just how quickly they go from toddlers to teens. It's a cruel joke, supporting every need as they are young and then supporting every opportunity for them to not need you.
As I'm still and have taken moments to think and pause, I'm reminded, that I DO want Zack to grow up and lean into himself more. I want him to have confidence in his OWN abilities and his OWN judgement and he'll never develop that if I'm always standing by, holding his hand and whispering in his ear. Never. He'll never know he can do hard things on his own, unless he begins doing hard things on his own. He'll never know he's capable of making good choices in a crowd, unless he's faced with the opportunity. He'll never know how much he loves home, unless I allow him to be away from it for a bit.
This also means, I'm allowing him to be exposed to more things outside of my control. Naturally, I'm prepared for him to make some bad decisions. I'm prepared for him to fail a time or ten or ten-thousand. At the end of the day, I'd like to pack as much failure as I can while he still lives in these 4 walls. That is not to say, I'm seeking it out, but it is to say, I value the process of natural consequences and hands-on learning and I recognize home is the safest place to make these mistakes. He's got a big safety net under him right now, so I continually push him outside his comfort zone. I'm prepared to receive a phone call from a friend's mom (and thank you to that friend's mom for being willing to make the call) letting me know something is amiss. I'm prepared for him to be heart-broken by a friend. I'm prepared for him to fail a class, miss an obligation and wreck the car, not because I'm seeking those things out, but because those are all part of the human experience and I don't want to protect him from it. I don't want to protect him from over-bearing coaches or frustrating teachers or the pressures of homework.
Instead, I want to help him navigate it. I want to pick him up when he's overwhelmed and help him carry the load, until he's regained his strength. I want to walk beside him when he feels abandoned by his friends, reminding him that it will all work out if he'll be patient. I want to lay beside him when he's devastated by his own choices and help him work through a solution. To protect him from these things would be the biggest disservice I could muster as a mother. To protect him from experiencing the pain of failure is to send him out into the world completely disillusioned, because without experiencing failure, he'll never have fully experienced triumph either. Without failure, there is no true satisfaction.
And so, here I sit, allowing him to go, spread his wings, then come home and we can repair any damage, bandage any wounds, correct any mistakes, and then...off he'll go again. I'm hoping this process will also ease my heart into the inevitable, but I'm certain it won't.
He did promise me before he left this time that he'll always want to come home, wondering when an appropriate time will be to tell his future bride this...please weigh in.
Hi, I'm Amy. When I'm not scouring the valley for the perfect new house, you can usually find me in the kitchen with a gaggle of kids. Chips, salsa and a Diet Coke are usually in hand.