Wow do my kids inspire me on a regular basis. The way they navigate life, relationships, their strengths and weaknesses, disappointments, desires…Grown-ups would do well to take our cues from them. This week I had the privilege of watching my oldest son act out of growing courage and confidence in a way that left me with my mouth open, my eyes watery, and my heart stretched.
Eight year old Silas likes to try new things if (A) he can guarantee success and (B) he can guarantee others will be pleased with him. I’m sure you can see how this could be a pitfall. Perfectionism. People-pleasing. Pushing yourself too far or not far enough. Totally scary for me as his mom with similar tendencies and a 37-year long list of how that’s played out. So when he asked his coach if he could play catcher, I was hesitant. That’s a lie. I was scared. I had butterflies in my stomach and I was wringing my hands. Silas is a rookie on the team. Most of his teammates have been playing for years already, and judging by the enthusiasm in the crowd, they come from a rich legacy of ball players. Silas still calls the dugout the ‘little house’ and doesn’t know the field positions. When his coach once told him to get in a particular position, Silas hustled out of the little house with all his might before stopping to ask, “um, exactly where is that?”
But man does he have perseverance. He slept in his uniform- belt and all- the night before is 9 am game. ‘So I won’t be rushed in the morning’, he explained. And man the persistence. In a big game with a big crowd and a scorching sun, here he is asking for the umpteenth time to play catcher. And the coach kindly said yes. And I promptly kicked into inner panic mode while still trying to maintain a cool as a cucumber persona because, ya know, don’t want to be the crazy sports mom, right?
With heart thumping my mind started racing. Does he know how to put the gear on? Does he know the plays? It’s so hot in that gear. Is he hydrated enough? Is he gonna get whacked with a bat? Does he know there’s people yelling in his direction?? Does he even know that he just gave the other team a run?? And another one??? What if this is too much for him to handle? Too much pressure? Too risky?
As it escalated to a shouting match between adults over something related to ‘the catcher can’t….’ and then one of them getting kicked out of the game, my son stood tall, a little confused and in the crossfire of screaming, and locked eyes with me. And though our gaze was blurred by a face mask, a chain-link fence, and my tears, it was there. The confidence. The courage. The “I’m doing the best I can.” He smiled and gave me a thumbs up and I realized that, though I very much wanted to be on the giving end of encouragement, I was most definitely on the receiving end.
And it brought me back 91 months to my first night alone with Silas. I was a first-time mom with a husband fighting a war in Iraq while I sat up at 3 am nursing my newborn by candle light. So many questions. Am I doing this right? Is he eating enough? Am I drinking enough? Should I change his diaper now or later? Is his dad safe? Will he come home? How am I ever going to shower with a baby? Will I ever sleep again? I don’t know what I’m doing!!!
And then Silas wrapped his entire hand around my thumb and my mind fell silent. It was just me and him and a candle. We would figure it out together.
Silas has been escorting me through motherhood from day 1. Ninety-one months to be exact. And I can see how our courage and confidence grows together. Intermingled. He’s given me lots of new experiences. He introduced me to sleepless nights and teething drool and the horrifying sound of croup at midnight; to scraped knees and snotty noses and projectile vomit; to the joys of little matchbox cars and legos and all the bouncing balls; to homeschooling and learning to read; to first friends and first fights; to first disappointments and first mother-son dates and the first “mom, I don’t need your help with this” and learning to slowly back off and let him blossom.
I’m so very thankful to have him as a son, a companion, an escort through motherhood and an example of growing courage and confidence. I admire you greatly, Silas, and the world is kinder with you in it. You’ve been so gracious as I learn how to be your mom. I’d say we’re doing the very best we can, and THAT is definitely thumbs-up worthy!