Thursday, May 26, 2011
On Friday, May 27th, I will become the proud owner of an adult. At least on paper.
For this momentous occasion I feel the need to share words, so I wrote Travis a letter.
Eighteen years ago I was 28, swollen, afraid and lying in a hospital bed trying to keep you inside me. Ahead of me was nursing school, a full time job and a new marriage. None of those things mattered, however, because the only thing that mattered was you.
I am sad you are a boy only for one reason - because you will never know the visceral, soulful magic of being a mom.
I would have stayed in that bed, miserable and frightened for a year if it meant keeping you safe. Someone was entrusting me with something huge, way bigger than myself and your Dad, yet something only the two of us could create. So in that bed I stayed until they decided that you were better off out in the world than in the safe harbor of me. It's odd, because that is a metaphor of how I feel today, as we prepare for you to graduate and head out into your life as an adult.
I will never forget your Dad's voice cracking as he saw the tip of your head, and the awe I felt as I pushed one last time, and you tumbled into the doctor's hands. At that moment, nothing in my life would ever be the same.
You were the baby that people would stop me on the street to say how perfect, how beautiful, how angelic you were. Your voice was one I could pick out among a thousand, your tears brought my tears, your laughter segued mine. I held you and rocked you and read to you and fought for you and then one day, I went to kiss you but I had to look up instead of down to do so. It happened that fast.
We grew up together, you and I.
So Travis, as you head into a world that doesn't always give you everything you want, I want you to remember these things. Carry them in your heart, live them in your actions, house them in your soul, because these are things that are going to make you the man I know you are capable of being.
Be kind. Be kind knowing that you may not get kindness in return. Be kind when you want to turn away, when it is inconvenient or time consuming. The light you shine into someone else's darkness may be a beacon for them, and your life will better because kindness always returns to you tenfold.
Be smart. You are, I know. My honor student, the math whiz I could never be, the studious Senior that I never was. Academic smart is important, but gut smart is what you will need to get you through life. If something feels wrong, it likely is. If your gut tells you "this is the right thing to do", if people who know you and love you tell you to run with an idea, you should. You know I believe in a higher power, and that power resides in you. That little voice telling you to do the right thing is actually a really big voice that is trying it's best to guide you.
Say it. The words that are in your heart have the capacity to grow when they leave your mouth. If someone means the world to you, tell them. If someone hurts you, let them know. Dad has accused me of wearing my heart on my sleeve, but the other thing he tells me he loves is my passion for what I do and what I believe. That passion can only be released when you put it out there for the world to see. Say I love you. Hug people. Look them in the eye when you speak. This is trust. This is what you need to be whole.
Be able to say you are sorry. Humility is the single most important trait a man can have. You will be wrong sometimes, whether it is in your job, your marriage or your parenting. The ability to say, "I could have done that differently, and I wish I had" will allow you to grow from your mistakes and make those you respect understand that you will never stop trying. To look someone in the eye and say "I am so sorry" puts another thread into the seam of a relationship, and makes it stronger. The most meaningful moments of your life will often follow the most frustrating ones.
Be strong. In times that you think you cannot take another hit, remember something that you are grateful for. I often thought of you, your sister or your Dad when I was bone tired at work or at my wit's end with my family. Gratitude will help you dig deep and remember the reason you are pushing on, whether it be in school, work or personal growth. Never give up. I learned this on a deeper level over the past year, and I don't want you to wait until you are 46 before you learn it too.
Take care of yourself. Please. Learn from my mistakes and make yourself a priority. Eat well, move your body, read great books, laugh hard laughs, and surround yourself with good people who inspire you. The best times I have ever had are also the simplest ones. Find joy in sitting in the yard with the person you love, listening to music and looking at the stars. Find peace spending time with your dog, floating in a pool, or making something beautiful that once wasn't. Make music on your guitar and let others continue to enjoy it like we do. Make people laugh. Inspire. Love. Grow. Be.
You will never know how much I love you. I am here for you, wherever the road takes you.
Happy 18th Birthday,