Just a few short months ago my firstborn son married the love of his life. A beautiful, intelligent, hardworking young lady who is perfect for him. And I couldn’t be happier.
For most of the wedding weekend I found myself smiling from ear to ear. Yes, there was some crying, I have to admit. But even through the tears my heart was filled with love and happiness. To see my son truly loved. To see him so happy was a blessing I will never, ever forget.
And then the morning of the wedding, while waiting to get our makeup professionally done, my soon to be daughter-in-law handed me a gift. It was a necklace with a pendant that read “Thank you for raising the man of my dreams.” I was so touched that for a moment it took my breath away. And then I cried. Yes, I did the ugly cry. Not the nice kind you see in the movie theater. But the kind where your face is distorted into something that resembles a living being that couldn’t possibly be human. (There’s video out there somewhere that I would pay top dollar not to have shared on Social Media.) It was like someone said “You did good Mom. You did a really good job.”
Now months later I still wear the necklace as often as I can. I wear it like a badge of honor. I show it to every mother I see. Not to show off. Not to say I’m the greatest. But to let her know yes, Mom, you can do it too. Even my stoic friend, who would not cry if slapped, had tears in her eyes. It’s very rare for a mother to receive a trophy for a job well done. And to have someone who probably knows my son better than his brother and I do, say that he is the man of her dreams is just amazing. I mean seriously? So many women are looking for just that…the man of her dreams. And to know I had part in raising a man who fits that description for someone? It’s mind-blowing.
Between you and me, I always thought both my sons were near perfect. (Ok, so their babysitters wouldn’t agree.) I just didn’t think anyone else was as crazy as me.
From the moment my sons were born I have prayed every day that they would grow into the men the Lord wanted them to be. Every day I tried to remember that they did not belong to me but that they were a gift and a blessing. And that my main job in life was to guide them, protect them, provide for them, show them love (at times tough love), guidance and boundaries. It was not easy. At times it was truly difficult. Raising two hard headed, active, intelligent boys as a divorced mother was probably the most difficult job ever. But with the help of extended family, friends, co-workers and the Grace of God we not only survived, we thrived.
We were blessed to be surrounded by people who loved us, cared for us and did everything they could to make us happy and feel loved. Giving my mother two grandsons brought her more joy than I had ever seen. And for many years she gave 110% to us. Like taking the boys on vacations without me in order to give them a break…from me. That’s right. Not the other way around. (I admit it. I was a bit of a nag. So they probably really needed that break). And driving me back and forth every month to Virginia to see the boys in Military School so my heart wouldn’t break in a million pieces. And so much more.
Then there was my grandfather who my sons adored. Well, we all did. He could do no wrong in our eyes. He was an example of how a real man treated and provided for his wife and family. Till this day I still hear my grandfather’s words as my youngest son gives words of advice to his young daughter.
In addition, there were my uncles. There was one in particular who would give the boys good advice but would also give them a healthy dose of fear. Uncle Billy would talk to the boys about real life. He’d talk to them about things that I, as a woman raised in an Upper Middle Class environment, had no idea existed. He warned the boys of pitfalls and how to avoid them.
My aunt and my grandmother, who made me feel truly loved, were always there with a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. I could always run to them when the job of motherhood would get overwhelming.