All in one day it happened that my little boy…
my baby boy
…he was rolling hay bales on out of the truck and climbing around on the load heaving and moving the fifty pound blocks and his pushing and pulling was actually helping not just adding cuteness to the work and that helping made the job go smooth and it got the bales to his big brother who got them to his dad who, because of all this help…
…stacked a whole load quickly.
And my girls…oh my beautiful girls who show me daily glimpses of the women they’ll become…those to-be leaders and wives and mothers, grandmothers and aunties and friends who walk beside…they were just happy little babies with the chubbiest thighs and the cutest cries and an uncanny way of waking their mama up at 4 a.m. bright and shiny for the day. But somehow this day, they clip up their hair and don aprons and dream up the perfect lamb chops and brownie fudge ganache for their big brother who befriends and protects and teases.
I thought the turning from twelve to thirteen was just yesterday for me, the time of staring into a mirror wondering who that person in there was. I thought that little girl was still there somewhere, but today, when I look around this house…this home with paint peeling and dishes stacked and floors needing scrubbed and all those handprints peppered on all the walls painted with all those coats and all those years of stubborn and determined love…that girl inside reminds me that growing up happens quietly.
Quickly and suddenly and silently and gradually.
So when we’re back home and the big celebration is over and now, today, it’s officially THE DAY, I remember back to the day when he was first born and there in the big white room filled with doctors in blue hats and masks that revealed smiling eyes beaming at me, a sound hit my ears and it bounced off those walls and it was so foreign and so new that my exhausted mind couldn’t make sense of it and I asked my husband to tell me what it was.
That’s your son, honey.
That’s our boy.
Today he’s thirteen and my once-newborn is entering the last third of his trek to adulthood. He makes me proud. He perplexes me. He amazes me.
And before bed I ask him if he’d once more play the pretty song he’s been learning on the piano so his dad can hear it.
Reluctantly, like a teenager and with sighs, he sits down to play for his mama.
His birthday gift to her.
He plinks it out steadily, note by note, measure by measure.
And his song fills our home.
By Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!