Thursday, October 16, 2014

it's because I love you

Dear Son, 
We skipped the bus and I drove you to school this morning because it was drizzling. I figured I'd spare you from starting the day wet because I could. Still, you were wiping the wetness from your cheeks as I slowed for the 20 mph school zone sign. I saw resolve move across your boyish face, possibly hating me, denying your part in the morning's case of the missing library books.
"It hurts me more than it hurts you" rang in my head when my lips said, "I love you, pal." as you hopped out of the van wordlessly for the first time ever.
As tempting as it is for me to put your library books in your backpack for you the night before or scurry around trying to find them in the minutes before we need to be out the door, I can't. I won't.
Because I perceive my job as your mother to help you become a successful individual without me, I won't swoop in to save you from making mistakes. Mistakes give first-born overachievers like you and me a crushing, pit-of-the-stomach ache. Feeling that ache, taking the fall after the trip is what compels us to change. I won't rob you of that, son.

I'm writing this letter to you because the first thing I did after school drop-off was locate your library books in our house. Now they stare back at me, tempting me to deliver them to you to spare you the humiliation of unpreparedness that awaits you this afternoon. I've even argued with myself that your tears this morning were enough to teach you the lesson, but I know better, because I've given in to that notion the last few times and here we are again, lesson, unlearned.

I understand our Heavenly Father far better in these moments when I'm withholding my power to save you from pain because I see the value in you walking through it. The truth is, what's more important than shielding you from hardship is giving you the tools and support to come through it a better person.

Remember when we were talking about superheroes? Remember when you said, "I'm noticing each of them has their own thing; like Superman has kryptonite and Batman has his parents' death. And the superheros overcome the bad with good."? We talked about Jesus. We talked about what sets us apart is how we respond to bad things. We can be hurt or sad or angry, but decide to do the right thing. And Jesus helps us become more like Him, closer to who He created us to be through the tough stuff.

Nobody wants you to reach your potential more than I do. I think you can soar, son! But more importantly, I want you to choose to soar; to rise above, even when it's hard. I don't want you to be stunned to discover that it takes hard work and dedication to be successful. We won't fool you into thinking someone will be there to make up the difference every time you don't have enough. How can you learn the importance of carefully discerning who gets a piece, unless you experience a broken heart? 

I remember the first time you got hurt. Ever. I'd checked you into the childcare at our gym in Texas and joined a Step aerobics class. It was good for both of us, I convinced myself. When they greeted me with a clipboard & waiver to sign because another child bit your chubby, little baby arm, it took great restraint not to scoop you up and take you back to our house forever, safe from the cruel world that bites despite our best efforts.

And for the last eight years, I've been balancing when to let you in on the realities of this world and when to protect your innocence.
I'm careful not to give you more than you can handle. And equally as careful not to give you less.
When I'm there to spare you, it's because I love you. 
And when I'm not, it's because I love you too. 


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