Ok, let’s just get something out of the way right at the outset. At the onset? From the get-go? The start; let’s just go with that. I try real hard with the words.
This isn’t some lovey dovey ‘i have big news to share on Valentine’s Day!’ post.
I lied. Dang it. I’m sorry. It is a post about a man I love but he’s the man that I met for the first time 16 years ago on Valentine’s Day. At 4:46 p.m., to be exact. For all intents and purposes otherwise, I think Valentine’s Day is just stupid.
So much of me wants to grab a sit down with parents of younger kiddos, get in real close, hold their shoulders in my hands and say, ‘do.not.wish.these.days.away.’ I might even shake them a little when I say it. But isn’t that what every parent says as they see their kids grow up? Yes, yes it is.
To say this last year has been the most formative for the relationship CJ and I have is not an exaggeration. I have often told him I have one job and that is to nurture him into a man of God who will love his future (so far into the future) wife and child(ren) with all of his guts. But I’ve also realized I’ve needed to ensure he is firmly rooted in who he is at his center. For him to know his identity has also just become so important to me.
I promise I’ve done my best. But at times, it’s felt like because of my own challenges, my best wasn’t enough. I mean, honestly, it’s always a little bittersweet to reflect on this day 16 years ago and every February 14 since because it’s not been a life of mountaintop experiences. It sincerely makes me ache for Connor that he comes from a ‘broken’ home and doesn’t know what it’s like to have his parents living under one roof. But I also can celebrate how far we’ve come since that first encounter. And that’s why I count this last year as the most important.
It was marked with so much change. The good and the hard. The ‘both and.’ We moved into our new home in March. We foster failed with a new (to us) puppy in April. We had a health scare that brought us closer as a ‘family unit.’ He learned how to drive in one of those obnoxious training vehicles. He fell in love with, and is quite good at, the game of golf. He started dating (Lord, help me.) the most lovely young lady. He was moved up to a starting position on his Varsity football team. He maintained a 4.0. He let me in on his weaknesses. He started lifting weights and is now stronger than mom (the jerk). He went to his first Homecoming. He binge-watched Parenthood with me. And the Bachelor. He started a podcast (which I encouraged for a long time before he started, let the record show). And if we’re really celebrating accomplishments; he ate lettuce, mashed potatoes and what I think was a banana pepper. He also shushed me at a basketball game because I am a passionate mom who acknowledges poor officiating. #sorrynotsorry Oh, and he helped pick out his first car. And he shifted his consideration set from Dodge Chargers and old giant trucks to something practical that gets good gas mileage. Bless.
And for as much as I can take credit for giving him life; he gave it right back to me. As I’ve navigated my own healing journey, I’ve done my best. I’ve tried so hard to protect him from my pain but I know at times that it was obvious. I mean, I do cry quite regularly
daily. But he’s been tender for me. He’s hugged me as hard as I’ve needed to be hugged. And he’s made me laugh at things we probably shouldn’t laugh about together but I also cannot apologize for the fact that we share a similar sense of immature (possibly inappropriate) humor. It might just be that it’s more age-appropriate for him and that I need to grow up. Or not.
I mean it when I say to know him is to love him. Every 73 sport-obsessed inches of him.
Watching him drive off to school this morning for the first time (in his fancy new whip!) just reminded me of that shoulder-grabbing word I shared. That, as with all things in life, we have to choose to be present for the moment we have. To be grateful for the people we get to spend those moments with. And not to wish they would go faster. Please don’t. Stop doing that.
Because I promise you that you’ll blink and every moment you ever wished would pass will be gone and you’ll be left standing in the driveway with tears streaming down your cheeks wanting them back. But as with all things rearview mirror, they’re behind us. And I have zero concerns about what lies ahead for Connor. So for now, I’m just going to choose to stay in this moment just a little while longer.
I love you most, CJ. Please drive careful.