It's been quite a while since a small bundle of flesh and blood escaped from the dark, quiet confines under my ribs, one of which came from Adam. It still confounds me how the chemistry between a mother and her offspring continue to be intertwined yet separate all at the same time, even now, almost sixteen years later. He separated himself from me long ago, yet he's still in me, under my skin, in my heart and mind. Someone once told me the definition of motherhood is giving your heart permission to live outside your body, and indeed, motherhood is a paradox of satisfying togetherness and terrifying separation.
In other cultures, he would be considered a man and embracing man-size responsibility. In America, children both grow up too fast and remain children too long -- another paradox -- and he gropes in the toxic quagmire known as "the teenage years." I grope, too.
To look at him, one might see a confident teenager on the cusp of manhood, all strong and confident and energetic. He's smart, articulate, and creative, to be sure. His talent and gifting rev their engines in preparation to launch like the space shuttle.
But what someone may not see from the outside is his mammoth (and ever growing) potential to disappoint his mother. A mother's love must be the fuel that combusts and is consumed in the explosion that propels the launch of a now-larger-than-his-mother boy who must learn to do it by himself.
What parent doesn't feel their child's failure, doesn't wear the shame in the consequences of their youth's folly? Can a loving mother not brace herself for the pain of a child who chooses unwisely, mismanages time, misjudges so often despite loving, godly counsel? Adolesence chooses easy and unwise almost every time. And a boy's future success, and godliness, and peace, and happiness are all at stake. So is a mother's heart. I'm learning this, and how I pray that he's learning, too.
I thought my days of heartache ended when I said yes to a man who loved me wildly, and my heart came to reside with his beneath his rib. He pledged his fidelity decades ago and lives it daily before me -- for me, and my heart has been safe and unharmed ever since. But when two become one, there it is in the children: flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone, borrowed rib and all. My heart outside my body, satisfying and terrifying at once.
What I never saw coming, though, was the potential for its being broken again at the hands of another sixteen year old boy.
Images from Google