like i couldn't cross the kitchen without him toddling after me, arms outstretched and hands clinging to my legs.
you know what i'm talking about. ever have a little one like that?
that was my oldest son.
the one who graduated high school last night.
the one who walked across the stage with arms stretched out receiving his diploma. and he didn't toddle. no, at 18 years old it is now a strut, a saunter, a smooth step and confident gate in the direction, not of his mama, but of his future.
it's the way it should be, and yet, i cannot help but remember this boy as a toddler who never wanted to leave my side. out of our five children, tyler was by far the most clingy. a true mama's boy. a child slow to warm up to new situations, a little boy who cried when dropped off at sunday school or preschool, a baby who always wanted to be held.
and now he's 18 and taller than me. his voice is deep, his shoulders broad, his hugs, quick, and i am pretty sure he hasn't clung to my legs in well over a decade. and this morning he will wake as an official graduate. he will head off to college in a couple of months and another chapter of life will begin. it happens every day, all the time, around the world ... and, yet, to this mother sitting here this morning, it seems almost impossible.
he's nothing like that little toddler guy, but everything like him as well. i know, that doesn't make sense. it's confusing, this mama thing. the changes didn't come overnight. i had some preparation. little by little i've been watching my boy turn into a man. i've watched him grow from clingy and crying to confident and capable. i've watched him grow from a child afraid to a young man full of adventure.
and it's an amazing thing.
it's a gift.
recently i did a short post about his great love of adventure. and while assembling a few pictures into a photo collage, i just had to laugh. was this really the same little boy who clung to my legs as a two year old. this young man out in his kayak, up on a mountain, flinging himself off a cliff? was it really him? how did this happen?
and how fitting that, yesterday, graduation morning, my son, the same boy who wouldn't stay in a room without me, went skydiving. he and a few of his friends celebrated their graduation day by jumping from a plane 14,000 feet up in the air.
as freaked out as that made me, i also couldn't help but think it perfect. these children who go from sticking like glue to our sides to, yes, skydiving. this is what motherhood feels like: one day we are doing our best to make dinner with them attached to our hip, and the next, we are releasing them to go jump from a plane 14,000 feet in the air.
yes, of course, somewhere in between there were sleepovers and summer camp and solo bicycle rides and a few thousand soccer games ... but for a moment it feels like we are the ones who jumped. because, we all know, when our kids jump -- be it from high school or preschool or planes -- a part of us jumps too.
whatever they do, wherever they go, a little piece of us travels along. because "go" and "do" they will. and should. life is meant to be lived, not clinging to our mother's skirts, but as an grand adventure embracing what God has already written for us.
a few months ago, i was at the brooklyn flea market in nyc. i stumbled upon an old world map from the 1800s, brought it home and had it framed for tyler's graduation gift. on the back of the frame we wrote: "have I not commanded you? be strong and courageous. do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." ~ joshua 1:9
and so the next adventure begins, tyler.
go! explore! dream! discover! we are excited for you, son. and we take great peace in knowing God will, indeed, be with you wherever you go.
and wherever that might be and whatever God will call you to do ... just know, even if you don't need me in the same room anymore, i'm still here. i'll always be here. i love you.
"adventure is worthwhile." ~ aristotle