A Boy, a Man, a Mom

The decision is final. My son has decided where he is going to college. My head acknowledges this, but my heart is undecided. It is uncharted territory for the both of us. He’s 18 — this child God used in order to make a mother out of me.

He's slowly been moving out of my sphere of influence. But at least he's been at home. When he wasn't, I believed he was where he said he was. When he goes away to college in a few months, I'll have to trust him to God in much bigger ways than before.

So this is how it is with our firstborn. We delight in their arrival, never grow tired of the ways they grow, and yet we are still surprised when they do. We fight with them, fight for them, and then fight the tears when we learn the truth: we’ve worked all along to put ourselves out of a job. And once we have succeeded, they will move on and so must we. But…

I still see the boy when I look up at the 6-foot-two man with stubble on his chin.

I see the blond boy I taught how to hit a ball, using an oversized whiffle-bat. The same one I caught hardballs for when he was trying out for a pitcher's slot in Little League. I still see the much older boy who yearned to play varsity ball but didn't survive the final cut, and walked away with his dignity intact but his heart broken. And I see the man, one year later, yearning to try out again, but missing his chance because he broke both thumbs in a skiing accident. He left a lot more than wounded pride on that slope.

I see baseball hats as permanent wardrobe accessories from the age of two. Really, some things never change. (He does take them off at the dinner table and in church.)

I see bookshelves full of Matt Christopher books about sports of every kind. Now they've given way to ESPN magazine and SportsCenter on cable TV.

I see the boy who collected all things Lego. And I see the man who bequeathed them all to his younger brother, still sitting down now and again to help him build things.

I see the boy who dressed up as a cowboy for Halloween and as John Paul II for a school presentation. And I see the man, getting fitted for his prom tuxedo — including a top hat and tails.

I see the boy whose favorite vehicle as a toddler was a “guck.” And the man I pray for driving his red pick-up down our driveway.

I see the boy who fell asleep at night listening to radio broadcasts of the Sox, Celtics and Bruins. And now I see the man pursuing a career in sports journalism.

I see the shy boy who needed braces and permanent bridgework, and the man with an easy smile.

I see the boy who collected commemorative State Quarters from my spare change and the man with a job, a checking account, and an ATM card.

I see the boy in dress clothes, receiving his First Holy Communion. And now I see the man who helps give retreats to underclassmen at his Catholic high school, and who stood up as godfather for our youngest nephew.

I see his mom. Once upon a time, she gave birth to an 8-pound boy after 14 hours of hard labor and an emergency c-section. Sniffling and crying, emotional after the white-knuckle birth, she strained to get a glimpse of the face of her baby boy. She looks different today, but you'll recognize her. She'll be the one sniffling uncontrollably, and waving her wet hanky at the man with the diploma, straining to see his face at graduation.

For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jer 29:11 RSV).

©2006 Patricia W. Gohn

Pat Gohn has been married to Bob for 23 years and has three children. Known to her friends as “majoring in carpooling and minoring in theology,” she is currently pursuing a Masters in Theology. She lives in Massachusetts and can be reached at pat.gohn@comcast.net. Her monthly column “Ordinary Time” appears at www.catholicmom.com.

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