This post was originally published in August 2008.
I sat on the second row of a darkened
old theater and watched my boy, my oldest boy, that boy who emerged
from me 11 years ago and made me a mother. I watched in him in awe, as
he pulled from reserves I did not know he had, to do something I did
not know he could do. He did it with abandon and confidence and joy,
and I watched him, reluctant tears flowing down my cheeks ("Do not cry, do not cry," I told myself, "11-year-old boys do not like it when their mothers cry").
But I did cry, sitting there mercifully cloaked in the dark, and I was overcome with the idea that he's not mine anymore. Not really,
not the way he was when he fit in the crook of my arm. Every day he is
stepping further down this road to being entirely his own person, doing
things I did not teach him, excelling in things I cannot do. It is
At the end, when the crowd roared, I shouted along with them:
"Bravo! Bravo!" The words jumped out of me, barreling awkwardly past
the lump in my throat.
But in my heart, the words were quieter: Bravo, my son, they whispered. Bravo
to you for finding what you love, and for doing it well. Bravo to you
for stepping gradually but surely away from your dad and me, making
your own way in this world, standing bravely on the edge of what's
ahead and jumping in headlong.
Part of me wanted to whisper these thoughts to him, and to remind
him that as he runs forward, we'll still be here to catch him when he
falls. For surely, someday, he will fall, and certainly, someday, we
will catch him.
But this is not the night for such words. There was no falling
tonight. There was no need for a safety net or a back-up plan. It was
a night for his star to shine so brightly that it cast light on the
path in front of him. He knows just where he's going now.
It's a funny thing, how a kid can grow up light years in just one evening.
Bravo, my boy.