I wish I had my digital camera so I could show you his first picture (not counting the ultrasound in utero shot.) My husband took it when Nicholas was 30 seconds old. Dr. Fisch held him up, said, "It's a boy," and my husband (bless his heart) picked up the camera and took one shot with available light. The picture is stunning, really. I promise to post it later this week.
So Baby isn't a baby any more (sigh!) But today he officially leaves the teen age years (Thank God!) These past seven years have been full of worry, anger, difficulties, and sometimes harsh words, but they have also been full of hope, growth, excitement, promise, and love that passeth all understanding.
Both my boys have provided plenty of grist for the mill that is my soon to be published book on the soulful parenting of teenagers, but Nick is the one who "field-tested" the concepts and practices outlined in the book. Couldn't have done it without him.
I love you to pieces, baby boy, even if I'm only allowed brief hugs these days, instead of jammy-fingered hand holding and earnest eskimo kisses.
So here, for you, (whom no one would DARE put in a corner!)is a letter I wrote a few years back (edited and updated for privacy's and pertinence's sake.)Maybe you won't get why I'm dredging up this old chestnut, but to me it seems just as timely as when I first wrote it.
Besides what did you expect? I'm a writer. It's what I do.
As I write this letter, I am seated on the porch. The sun is shining, the fan whirs its soft hum in the background, and the air lies warm and heavy upon my shoulders. This is the natural world, untouched by human air-conditioning (although moved by artificial breeze. – thank God!) Somehow I feel closer to the heart of things when I can breathe outdoor air, more in touch with our world and what truly matters in it. So perhaps this is the right place to think upon the challenges you have overcome in the past, you continue to struggle with in the present and no doubt will carry with you into your future.
We are often at odds these days, and there is considerable strain in our household; We do not live in a “Father Knows Best” world (much as your dad would like to think so), nor can I channel June Cleaver, put on my apron and pearls, whip up a batch of brownies, meet my family at the door with a cheerful, “How was your day, dear?” and remain confident of a perfect outcome (within 30 minutes.) Oh, if it were only that simple! But I remain confident of the power of love to overcome all strife, and trust in God to somehow lead us through the darker passages of our mutual life into the light of true communion.
You will not always be 20 and struggling to attain your freedom; we will not always be “50”ish and worried about your safety and degree of wisdom. Our struggle to rein you in and your chafing at the bit are all part of the eternal cycle in which the young grow up and then away, to begin their own lives, apart from the parents who still love them, still worry about them, and still wish they were there to tuck safely into bed each night.
When you were just a “little peanut” as your Grandma Barbara called you, I would hold you close and stroke your fair hair, call you my angel baby, count my blessings, and wonder who you would become and what you would do with your life. And how I could help you to become the man I knew you could be. To love what is good, to do what is right, to live with truth and honor.
Someday you will have children and then you will understand how a parent’s heart beats in tandem with their child’s. This is why I get upset; this is why I care; this is why my heart grieves when you are in pain and leaps when you succeed.
I know it feels like you are endlessly old and wise at the ripe old age of twenty. You are teetering on the edge of the nest, testing your wings, longing for the day when you can fly the coop. This is as it should be.
Your teen years have been difficult and tumultuous, as you struggled with your personal demons to find your inner light. You are in the process of discovering your own truth of who you are, and why you are here. And that's a great thing.
I believe we are all part of the divine, here to bring about God’s kingdom on earth, in the fullness of time – the fruition of love. You will find your own beliefs and your own way of expressing them, but I encourage you to remember your mission, remain true to yourself, and establish each day upon the firm footing of your ultimate purpose. Let your life speak.
True peace and joy comes from discovering “where your deep longing meets the world’s great need” and then following your calling. We are here to help each other; we are here to serve God; we are here to learn to “bear the beams of love.”
Friends and loved ones will leave us, jobs will come and go, youth is fleeting, and gratification is always temporary. But the deep sense of calling and purpose, of making a difference in our world, if nurtured and guided will always provide meaning to your life.
As I cross myself,I say, “I – Not I – Christ in Me.” I can make a difference; but not to myself or for my benefit alone; I can serve as God’s eyes and ears and hands upon this earth.
As you make your own way through life, I urge you to pause, listen to the voice within, and heed its wisdom. It has never failed me and I know it will see you through, no matter what life sends your way.
Put yourself out there; dare to try; seeing if your grasp exceeds your reach. You may surprise yourself. The world lies before you in endless variety; make a resolution to make a difference in it, whether that difference is as large as “saving the world” or small as “ saving one person.” Either way, in so doing you will save yourself. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Many have heard;
Few have seen
the world that lives beyond the pale
of thoughts and dreams
and nightmares -
The fragile fact behind the face
of now, and then, and whatever -
The unseen branded deep
within the known -
Enfleshed in truth and fire.
“What’s up?” he asks
and I reply.
We exist in this world.
But we live
in a place called
-Susan Pandorf 2005