These days, I look at my oldest son and see a shiny new mini-adult with an ancient and wise soul, who is also one of the most resilient human beings I have ever met. I do not say this lightly, or even as a proud parent. I take no credit at all for the extraordinary light of his being. In fact, I almost want to say that he has triumphed in ways in spite of my mothering imperfections. Some people are given a life of challenge, and in those challenges they will take on a life of suffering. The kind of suffering that may not be overt, but is more like an invisible net cast over dreams and feelings and truths that keep the heart contained and life small. Not him. This is his gift and superpower, a way of projecting some kind of potent force field protecting him against all the negativity that's both a permeable membrane for love yet resistant to toxins. In the face of all that is challenging for him on a day to day basis, he is thriving. I mean, like crazy. And I don't mean the external things, like having a girlfriend or getting good grades (though, wonderfully for him, he has both), I mean in a much broader sense.
As a mother, I'm sure you can imagine what a relief it is to see your child becoming whole in the womb of the world. I think my biggest fear when they were little was that I would not be able to protect them from the suffering, and that the big and small ways in which we all suffer might somehow leave them broken in core and irreparable ways. I have no illusion of perfection with either of my kids, but I do see now, more than ever as they get older, a certain strength of character that they both possess.
My oldest is who he is, unapologetically. Not with insecure bravado or uncertain recklessness, but with an absolute sense of contentedness in where he fits in within the larger structure. He is compassionate and passionate and empathetic and just really steady, in a way that I deeply admire. For someone who is not always outwardly in control of his own momentum, he is incredibly grounded in his sense of self, which I imagine will serve him when the hormones and weight of the world are really full on. He's only twelve, and a young tween at that, but I can see glimpses of the grown man he will become... and it's not about the path or any measure of success that I have ever been worried about, it's faith in my child's ability to eventually find real happiness, self worth and love.
Though I know I will still worry about him in every way possible, where it truly matters most he is already the human I had always hoped for him to be. This is the revelation I've been having all autumn long.
I see him.
I'm not sure I always have, beneath the struggle and the crashing momentum and the warrior parenting and my own agenda as a mom, but I do now. He is rising. In seventh grade I can remember feeling like water, practically invisible to myself and wanting to conform to whatever container I was poured into. I wanted desperately to fit in.
He just continues to shine in his own way.
And I see him.