For the past fourteen and a half years, I have been tasked with the responsibility to keep this man-child alive. I have feed, clothed, protected, and shielded him from foes and dangers, visible and invisible. For years I was his everything (what David would call having him wrapped around my apron strings 😊) From the time he was a toddler, he remained within eyesight of me and my protection, willingly lavishing me with his all his affection…. payable in never-ending hugs and kisses….. then one day the hugs and kisses became few and far between…. photos nearly impossible! Watching my adorable, affectionate, pudgy boy grow into a lanky, strong, deep voiced, hairy, opinionated man has been one of the most heart wrenching yet beautiful seasons of life for me.
This afternoon, for thirty minutes, I forced myself to remain calm and glued to the couch where I sat while watching my boy scale a backyard tree. This wan’t your typical tree climbing adventure. This involved ropes, climbing harness, carabiners and a homemade climbing rig and minimal use of the tree to climb. I can’t begin to express the struggle within my heart as I watched my son climb 30 plus feet into the atmosphere, where I am pretty sure oxygen deprivation would soon overtake him and inhibit any existing common sense! I willed myself to sit in silence as I watched him falter, flounder in the breeze, struggle with tangled ropes, get stuck, cling to a branch (I am pretty sure it was rotten) swing precariously out of control, untangle and eventually free himself…..and then continue to climb…… It took every ounce of will power and self-control to not run out and shout motherly (and wise) admonitions, imploring him to not kill himself all while pointing out every possible way he could die….. which was in fact a real possibility because I ran the probabilities of all manner of calamities that could possibly kill him, and the odds were not in his favor.
After a thirty-minute struggle with nature, I was relieved to watch Owen’s uneventful return to earth. A few seconds later he rushed into the house and invited me into his world. With excitement, he began to describe his adventures in the tree. Once more, I bit my tongue and listened to his detailed narrative of events. I praised him for his quick thinking and asked questons about his ability to free himself ( from what I considered a near death experience with a rope and gravity.) I asked him questions about how he solved the delima of getting hisglove caught in the rope (to which he proudly exclaimed “I unhooked myself from the line (30 feet in the air) in order to get loose!!!!” And gasp, ….. I even offered him my phone to take back up into the tree so he could photograph the “hundreds” of beetles he discovered on a branch. A miracle happened in that moment mama’s because I didn’t reprimand, caution, or give him sage advice. I let him be who God created him to be, a strong, courageous, adventurous warrior. I can’t describe his excitement over the entire episode (which I consider a near debacle!) He talked me through everything he realized had gone wrong, and his solution to the rope that had inhibiting him from successfully reaching a dead branch (he has determined to cut down), and how he was going to succeed next time. Seconds later he was back in the tree and….climbing even higher. I verbally called out to the Lord to preserve the life of my son and then forced myself to look away while doing a mental refresher of my 1st Aid skills.
Then my husband came home. He walked over to the couch where I sat and I pointed out the window towards the tree. With a smile, he gazed out the window at his son dangling from a rope. He nodded at Owen and exclaimed, “That’s exactly what I did when I was his age.” David slipped out the back door and walked to the tree, standing below flailling limbs and legs. I am not sure what my husband said to our son, but I saw a grin spread over Owen’s face as his daddy called up to him. Soon Owen was on the ground, and I watched as father and son discussed climbing strategies. I watched David inspect Owen’s rigging and ascent line, giving him advice regarding his knots. I watched Owen ask a question and then saw him respond, giving his father a huge smile and thumbs up….. and then he was backup up the tree. While my mama’s heart ached for times long past, I knew even in that moment, I was watching the process of my boy becoming a man! I am not sure how, but my heart ached and surged with pride, all at the same time.
I an age where men of courage, valor, and strength are shamed and even attacked, I am so very grateful for my husband who models Godly character and might in action. David knows that Owen faces an uphill battle and he is committed to walking alongside and encouraging him to become an man of God as he faces the battles ahead. David is reading a book “How God Makes Men,” preparing to take Owen through it.” I’d give anyhting for a hug, or semi normal picture, but more than anything I want my boy be be the full measure of a man God desires to make him. I pray that as God grows my son, he also gives me courage and faith to let go. Though my heart aches to hold my adorable, cowboy boot wearing, tractor loving kid one more time, I pray there are more towering trees to climb in Owen’s future, and mountains to scale, battles to fight, and enemies to vanquish……
Mama’s, hug your sons while you can, savor the moments, but don’t hold onto them. Let them find a tree to climb a mountian to scale, a battle to fight. Let them falter, fall, and fail. Let them discover who and what they are made of. Don’t shield them from battles that will make them men. Let them become men who love you but don’t need you.