He will will be seventeen in less than half a year. With the addition of a set of car keys in his pocket, his wings are getting wider. He's not one to look for excuses to leave the house. He likes it here, and he generally finds no reason to leave. BUT... then a text rings through the house. Some friends want to meet for bowling and movies tonight. He respectfully asks for permission, and even though my insides are screaming the opposite, his dad and I glance at each other and calmly lay out the rules and grant him the permission he was looking for. I go into heavy breathing mode and start my 48 hours of meditating and asking God for peace during this stage of motherhood. I have told my closest friends this stage is BY FAR the hardest of them all. This stage requires things from me that I have to really dig deep to find and maintain.
Yesterday I tried to explain my emotions to Lucas. I know that he won't completely understand it until he's going through it someday, but as we were taking the dogs on a walk down the canal yesterday, I was reminded of a story. Lucas has a golden retriever. Copper is now almost 5 years old. I remember years ago though, when we took Copper for his first run through the woods at the pond. Luke wanted to keep him on his leash. That's not the game that Copper came to play though. He came there to that little pond in the woods to explore a freedom he had never known before. He came to EXPLORE, to CONQUER, to RUN and feel the breezes blow through that beautiful long coat of his. J and I had to literally pry the leash out of Luke's hands as he protested, saying "Please... What if he runs away? What if he's too fast for us to catch? What if he doesn't come back when we call him?" We explained to Luke that these were all valid questions and thoughts, but we can't train him to do these things unless we give him the opportunities. If we love Copper, then we have to let him try. With a fear that gripped Luke like nothing I had really seen before, he took that leash and un-hooked it from his dog. Copper sat there for a few seconds. He did not instantly dart. He actually waited for Luke to tell him that it was okay to run. With that single command, Copper shot off like a bolt! He ran. He ran victoriously. He did lap upon lap around the pond that day. Each time he was called, he came back. He had no desire to run in any direction away from the boys. He wanted to run, but he wanted to run next to them. Well, maybe a little in front of them, but always looking back to see that they were right behind him. That was the first of many trips to the pond. Now we don't live near the pond, but we do live near a canal that runs along the canyon, and Copper LOVES to run along that canal jumping in and out of the water all along the way. I would say his happiest days are the days spent running along side of us... Without a leash.
I think Luke understood my heart a little better after reminding him of this story yesterday. Of course, he's a sixteen year old boy, so he didn't come out and say anything crazy like, "Okay Mom, I get it now." His face told me that he did though. After telling the story, I realized that I needed to hear it just as much as Lucas did. I needed to be reminded that my son is going through the normal stages of life right now, and so am I. My concerns are all valid concerns, but I will miss the opportunity of seeing Lucas find this new freedom if I try to hold him back. I have to trust above all, my Jesus. I have to trust that He is protecting Luke always. Then, I have to trust Luke. I have to know and be confident that he doesn't have any desire to run in the opposite direction of where I'm at. He wants to run beside me, or if ahead of me a bit, he will always be the kind of boy who looks back to check on his mom to make sure I'm still there. Luke has never been a sprinter. He's a slow and steady kind of guy. He will find freedom and that "breeze blowing through his hair" kind of feeling from an occasional trip out on his own. If I love this boy of mine, then I have to let him test these waters.
So... It's time for me to continue unravelling the leash. Over the past couple of years, I have been un-raveling, but now we're down to the last part. The part where I have to take that hook off and watch him use his new found freedom.
It's time to watch him run.