My Boy, A Man.

In less than 24hrs I will put my firstborn son on a shuttle that will carry him to a flight, which will then carry him to Anchorage, from where he will drive to a remote town on an Alaskan peninsula. He will live, work, and soul search there for one month. This will be the longest he and I have been apart from one another in 17 years. While I am notably anxious to send him off, especially as I watch the hours pass and the send-off become more and more imminent, I am finding myself excited and hopeful for his journey. There are many reasons for this, but for brevity's sake I will focus on the top few here. I don't want to bore you by gushing about how awesome my kid is as he grows into a man, but it needs to be said.

First, the boy loves to travel. He has been taking solo flights around the country for a decade already, and has found himself in several other states on various adventures over the years. This trip will be his most independent of them yet. I expect that, in addition to learning copious things about himself, he will come back bearing plenty of lessons about work ethic, dependency, technological reliance, nature, and his place in the world.

Second, the last year has been ripe with transformation for Koa. He left school a few months ago, and since then has secured a fun and interesting volunteer position at the local Alternative Library, earned his GED, and finished Driver's Education. He has begun to explore and imagine a variety of career options and pathways for his future, and to discern and articulate what it is he wants most from life. This trip couldn't come at a better time insofar as helping him distill his dreams.

Third, he is staring down opportunities and has support I didn't myself feel as a teen. This notion is not insignificant, if only because I believe every parent's wish is to see their children have greater opportunities than they themselves had. After I left school and home at 15 I was on my own. For Koa to have our support and help in planning this adventure. for him to know that his bed will still be here, his seat at the table will be here, his family will be here, and his life will be here when he returns, he is receiving more than logistical backing... He is also getting affirmation that whatever he wants for himself in this world, his parents and loved ones will be here to support his work in achieving it.

And finally, he totally deserves it. Koa is a great gift to our family. He is compassionate, funny, smart, playful, thoughtful, loyal and talented. My son, the boy, has always been all of these things. My son, the man, deserves to find himself amidst all of the greatness that he has shared of himself with others. He deserves to feel the self-compassion in processing the difficulties he has surmounted this year, to internalize all of the growth, to challenge himself and see what he is really capable of independent of our immediate assistance, and to feel the freedom that an adventure like this is sure to provide. The constraints of the stress of teenage life are as real as they are in any other phase of life, and everyone deserves a break once in a while.
Dear Koa, I will miss you more than I want you to know. And yet, I am so excited to put you on that bus tomorrow morning. My son, young man, you have made me so proud to know you and grateful for the chance to be your mother. Travel safely, work attentively, and return wholly. We can't wait to hear all of your adventures along the way and upon your return, and to see the sick mustache you grow while you are away. We will be here waiting!

(love Mom)

1 comment

Sara Wright said...

Oh my, I love you so Mama. Your words resonate with in me. You are brave and I look up to you for going with your gut instead of ruling with societal quotas. I hope to break free of the norm, bust out of this box and let my teenage son LIVE life as he wants, expand his wings, he may have to re-grow them after his experience with school and let him fly.