I have five sons.
There came a time, in each of their lives, that looked like this:
We were in a public place. My five-year old son needed to go to the bathroom. We found the restroom and I began shepherding him into the ladies’ room. He stopped. He pointed to the men’s room with these frightening words, “I want to go in here.”
This is how it has played out each time:
- I stopped.
- My entire body went into panic mode.
- I smiled at my son.
- I screamed in my head, “If there is a molester in this bathroom I will beat the living shit out of him.”
- I nodded encouragingly to my son and said, “Go ahead, I will be right here.”
- I then waited, counting, figuring out how long it should take to pee and wash up.
It sounds easy.
It is not.
I was born to protect.
I was born to nurture.
That is who I am.
But there comes a time when I have to let go.
- Eric, age 24, took a trip to the upper eastern area of the US with two friends a month ago. They rented rooms from strangers. In places called “Hell’s Kitchen.”
- Mitchell, age 21, has recently told me that he wants to visit Kenrick-Glennon Seminary over Easter break. Kenrick is located in downtown St. Louis. He wants to drive by himself. To that city. Seven hours away. With six lane highways.
- Matthew, age 17, just joined the Air Force Reserves. The Air Force is run by a bunch of men. In places where I have never been.
I want to do this with grace and ease.
Why? Because I have witnessed, up close and personal, what happens when a man child is not released. I have seen the way a mother can break her son’s spirit.
Letting Go of Our Sons.
To aid me in this, I have read John Elderidge’s Wild at Heart about five times. He speaks of a man’s need to be a man. He describes it in full, living detail.
He says within every man there are three desperate desires:
- for a battle to fight
- for an adventure to live
- for a beauty to rescue
It is up to my sons to find the real battle, to seek the adventure and to rescue the beauty.
My job as mother is to recognize their inner warrior.
And to let them go fight, in the battle they have chosen, or that has chosen them.
Knowing me, I will continue to write feverishly in my journal. I will continue to pour out my heart to my best friends. I will continue to pray rosaries of protection over my babies. After all, I am a woman.
But. I will stand straight and tall. I have done my job as mother. I am proud, so very proud of my sons.