Almost to 19 years ago James and I jumped outta the frying pan and into the fire. We welcomed our first little bundle of joy into our home and into our hearts. I was thrilled I had a son. I had always wanted an older brother and relished in the fact all of my children could say they had a big brother, warts and all. As I held that little baby boy in my arms, I was overwhelmed and excited at all that lay ahead for our little family. When the nurses packed us up and wheeled me out to the car while I held a blue blanket full of new life, I couldn't believe they would let me take such a precious soul out into the world. That is when it really hit me, I was his mother.
Fast forward past the T-ball games, baptism, pine wood derby's, Eagle Scout court of honor, first job, band concerts, high school ... all the way to today. I am now looking at a six foot, hairy, bundle of potential.
I recognize this more now than the first day I saw that little baby with a head full of dark hair that looked just like his grandpa. I had no idea the bumpy roller coaster ride that lay ahead.
I am at a crossroads in life with my first son. I can look to the left and see all that we have been through together in this rough and tumble world. The first day of school, the first bike ride, the day he leaned all the way back while trying to lick an ice cream cone and it fell flat on his face. I laughed and asked him " Alex , what are you doing ?" His reply? " I'm sitting here with ice cream all over my face, what does it look like I'm doing?" That pretty much sums up my serious, intense, life kinda sucks, it doesn't matter if the glass is half full or half empty, it's going to spill all over me anyway, oldest child.
To my left I see so many wonderful memories and fun times. Just tonight as we all sat around the dinner table, I thought to myself how much I will miss seeing all four of my boys in their white undershirts at Sunday dinner. It is kind of a default, little recognized tradition in our home. The boys taking off their white dress shirts after church and spending the rest of the day in white undershirts and P.J. bottoms.
As I look to the right, the pathway seems so daunting to all of us. It is time for me to release that little boy of mine into the world. I have done my job well, I have raised a son who can go out and survive and provide for himself. He is smart, hard working, good looking and determined. He is by all accounts a success thus far. It is time to let go and yet it breaks my heart to see him go, onto to succeed where I may have failed.
I picture myself standing at this crossroad in life, recognizing I will be coming back to it five more times over the next few years. As I approach the threshold leading Alex into his great and wonderful adventure, my heart rejoices and it breaks.
He tells me he won't serve a mission, that it isn't " right " for him. He thinks of buying cars way beyond his ability to afford at 18. He feels forced into college. He is angry and hurt over things I have no control over. I truly feel sadness completely wash over me as the choices I would make for him are not the ones he wants. The pathway seems so clear to me and yet, he is taking the longer, harder and more painful path. I want so much for him to learn from my mistakes instead of repeating them. And yet... he is as stubborn and hard headed as his parents were at 19.
So, as I stand at the cross roads and look back at the last 19 years, I can only hope and pray that when we skip forward another 20 years, I can laugh at myself then as I do now when I think of the stress I felt when Alex walked at 12 months and not at 11. Maybe I will see him serve a mission at 19. 3 years instead of 18. 11. I hope to find him happy and fulfilled at 40.
Am I an epic failure? I truly feel that way tonight. I guess I won't know the measure of my success for years to come, it sure is hard to gauge when you are right in the middle of the most difficult challenge one will ever face in this mortal life, raising Heavenly Father's sons and daughters to reach their greatest potential.
So, while James and I are still in the middle of the fire and finding ourselves getting a little singed around the edges, and the heat a lot hotter than we thought it would be 20 years ago, I can be proud and grateful for that little boy that has become a great young man.