My darling youngest son, you turned 18 today. How can that be? How can this young man before my eyes be you? Your name means ‘beloved gift of God.’ And you live up to that name.
I prayed for joy with all of you. Joy flows out of you and is all around you. I remember telling you recently that often I would send you to your room after you had disobeyed to wait for your consequences. You thought it was because I was incredibly angry with you and needed to calm down. Most of the time, you waited because I couldn’t stop laughing. You all are the joy of my heart.
I remember Gammy marveling at you when you rolled over the day after we brought you home from the hospital. I’ve never stopped marveling at you. You astounded Poppa with your sports ability–especially throwing and catching. And now you are a top shot putter in the state. I remember your energy far surpassed mine, so you motivated me to exercise and improve my energy and stamina so that I could keep up with you. I remember when you were 2 and we all went to one of Dad’s work functions at a home with a lot of land. You walked away across the field, never looking back, and sat down just before you got to the trees … with your back to us. I wondered what you were thinking. I would wonder that a lot through the years. We kept our eye on you and Dad finally went and sat down with you before coming back to the group. I remember lunches at Village Inn–chocolate chip pancakes and club sandwiches–when you were in kindergarten. I remember dancing at the dentist office to the elevator music, singing and praying before bed and you dancing to the songs Dad would play on the guitar.
Before each of you were born, Dad would poke my stomach to see what you would do. Em kicked back–no one was going to take up her space! We knew she would be a fighter, a challenger. J just rolled over and repositioned himself to accommodate the new normal of his environment. You didn’t move. You didn’t kick. You just blew it off. Our concern began….
Instead, what we’ve found turned out to be a free-spirit in terms of peer pressure. You have always been well-liked; but you never seemed to care what others wanted you to be. Because of that attitude, you are a leader. Your teachers all have said how kind you are. Parents of classmates would wax lyrical about you and smile warmly at me when they found out you were my son. A couple of teachers commented how inclusively you treated all your classmates. In gym classes, you wanted everyone to have a turn and would even toss or throw the ball to the girls to give them a chance to shine. Other classmates said that you would stick up for them and protect them. You make others feel good about themselves by embracing them in your world.
I remember praying for each of you and asking God to reveal what part of Him you contain. With you, I see a pastor’s heart–I don’t know if you will ever be a church pastor; but you have a deep caring and empathy for others. I remember one Sunday, you were about 8, you came to me with your Bible open and said that you’d been reading about how the Israelites had hurt the heart of God so often. You continued that it made you think of how many times you had done things that must have hurt the heart of God and it made you sad. We prayed for God to reveal more of His heart to you and the ability to live out His way of life. You trotted off and all was well with the world. I pray now that you will not let others shape your identity. You are big and strong. You have a protective nature; but I pray that you will allow yourself to need protecting sometimes. People look to you as a role model; but I pray that you will embrace God’s humility so that you can use the power others give you in their lives to point them to Him.
When I see you all grown up, and yet behind your beautiful blue eyes I also see the little boy who still lives in you, my whole being swells with pride. I’ve often said that as a mom, my goal is to work myself out of a job. I’ve done my job well. I know you don’t need me like you used to when you were
little young. You are confident and appropriately independent. My role in your life has changed through the years. I miss the ‘little boy’ years; but I look forward to where God takes you through life. My mama’s heart still worries, still panics, still wants control. But as with these first 18 years, we will grow together and figure out our changing roles with each other.
I know one thing will not change. I will forever love you and be proud that you are my beloved gift of God.