My oldest man cub turned 13.
He started his birthday as any other day. Waking to his alarm at 5:30 am, putting the kettle on for his tea, showering, trimming his nails, dressing, then finding his Mom to tell her about all the ideas and observations he’s made since the last time we spoke.
It feels silly saying that I raised this man cub, when I feel that he raised me just as much. He was born into a storm of unrest to a young girl who was, in many ways, still lost at sea. And yet, he entered the world – perfect. Wholesome, noble, Quiet, serious, and intelligent. Bursting with promise, and laced with innocence.
I was far from a stellar mom to this cub. He was loved and cared for, but I was young and embarrassingly naive. I struggled with the endless sacrifices of motherhood, I desperately wanted the freedom my peers had, and I lacked the means to provide for him.
I wasn’t just unprepared. I was utterly, unready.
I wouldn’t finish college until he was 3, I wouldn’t marry until he was in kindergarten. As I chronicle it in the annals of my skewed memory, that time was a storm – braved by us both.
He saw his mom at her darkest; when she cried for no reason, when she worked long hours, when patience was short, and time was limited. She was broken, and it wasn’t always hidden.
Still again, he emerged. Perfectly wholesome, nobly responsible. discretely grounding his mother, offering perspective and motivation to the most irrational of moms. Being naturally earnest and mild-tempered, he made the perfect companion for me during that term of disquiet. His needs and disposition nudged me steadily along to adulthood, one sleep-deprived day at a time. Of course it’s lovely to become a mother on your own terms, to be eager for the task, and itching to nurture – but that wasn’t my path. God knew better.
I wasn’t ready for him. But he was certainly readied him for me.
Having him young and unready gave me great pause. This tiny boy taught me how to love someone else more than myself. He taught me how to steady my temper. He taught me how to watch clouds.
I’ve often wondered why God charged such a stupid girl with this awesome little boy – when I was so obviously inferior to the task. He’s s turned out to be such a great kid, and I don’t know how it happened.
But as he blows out his birthday candles, and I kiss his head. It occurs to me.
He didn’t charge me with him.
He gave him to me.
Happy Birthday, Man cub of mine.