When I was pregnant with my oldest son, I was on bed rest. Due to not being able to move much, small trips to the bathroom or the bedroom were welcomed, even longed for. Occasionally, on the way back from the bathroom I would wander into his nursery and sit in the rocking chair we would eventually spend many a night in. I would talk to him and smile and take in the sights of the bright green room that seemed to glow with anticipation and excitement. I would stare at the empty picture frames and wonder what the face looked like that would fill those blank expanses. I would breathe, and pray, and make promises to him about the kind of mother I would be. They were special moments in my life that I remember fondly. Just he and I, no one able to know what we were saying to each other. More than ten years have passed since this time, and many of the promises I made lay broken in our wake.
My oldest son tries my patience. Maybe it’s because we are so similar. Maybe it’s because he’s a ten-year old boy. Maybe it’s because I don’t actually have patience. I am not completely sure. What I do know is that I don’t seem to handle him well. He is impulsive and competitive, especially with his little brother. He is also kind and loving, especially with his little brother. Lately, I have felt like I have been constantly on him. I start the day saying I am going to cut him some slack; I am going to give him some grace, but by the time we are loading in the car to go to school I am yelling at him for taking out his little brother in the hallway just so he could be first to the door. More broken promises lay in our wake.
Yesterday I was home alone for a short amount of time while their amazing father took the boys to the batting cages. As I was in the midst of picking up the house and making sure we had clean uniforms for the next school day, I wandered into his room. The room has changed. The rocking chair is no longer in the corner, the crib has been replaced by a full size bed, and posters of football players and baseball players are stretched across the walls. Nonetheless, I took a deep breath and sat on his bed. I stared at the now full picture frames showing quite the life. I stared at the one of his father and I right after his birth. I was exhausted and greasy, but beaming with pride, clutching the cutest newborn I had ever seen. The one next to it shows us in front of Thomas the Train. I was swollen with the pregnancy of his little brother, his father holds him by the hips and a brown-haired two-year old is shown clutching to his chest as many trains as his chubby little hands could hold, his body turned to the side unable to decided if he should face the camera or stare at his beloved Thomas. I also studied the picture of a sweaty, dirty ten-year old in a football uniform. He is also exhausted, but beaming with pride at his new role of a football player.
As I sat on the bed, studying these pictures and these changes, a lump formed in my throat. I fail this boy far more than I help this boy. He is on the cusp of middle school and the teenage years. There are so many things I wanted him to know and be before these adventures. I have been so focused on what I thought he would be in those waning hours of the morning when he was a baby. I have forgotten who he wants to be. I have lost focus on what he wants and put my ideas and ambitions on him. A load he was never meant to carry. He has far exceeded my expectations in ability. He can make friends with anyone; he is extremely intelligent; he loves sports with more passion than I have seen in anyone. He lives his life on fire. He exudes zeal and enthusiasm in everything. And some days I am so tired. I am too tired to allow that passion to sit next to me and tell me every sports history fact known to man. I’m too tired to hear his brother and him laugh at the top of their lungs at God knows what. I’m just tired.
So I sat in his room last night, and I breathed, and I prayed, and I made promises to him. This time he couldn’t hear me, but I know what I said. I promised to let him be him. I promised to not make him fit into what I wanted for him. I promised to not be so tired all the time. I promised to spend some time only focused on him. One of the promises I made all those years ago was to always apologize when I made a mistake. I admit when I make mistakes, when I lose my cool, when I stand in his way, and he, in turn, apologizes to me and others. I know I do some good in there. That is one promise I have not broken.
As I left his room last night, I turned at the doorway and smiled. I am sure it won’t be the only time I sit in his room and think about him. I know life changes all the time, and our relationship will change with us, but I also know that one thing will always remain. I will love him every moment of my life. I promise.