Monday, July 09, 2007

My Baby's Growing Up...

Matthew was my first. He and I have been through much together. We've laughed and played together, we've seen the best in others and enjoyed the happiness that comes from just feeling good about life, and we've experienced the deep sadness that comes from being hurt by someone you trusted. We've learned together, explored the beach together and taken long walks together where we discuss life with all of its good and bad. We've really grown up together. Well, he still has a few years to go, but then so do I. I've learned to be a better parent because of him. I've discovered what teen hormones can do to a once easy going, growing boy, and I've learned how much fun it is to share little discoveries with someone who shares your genes. And last week I learned something new with him once again. I learned how to let go.

Matthew spent his first day working, earning his first paycheck. No, he's not old enough to get a job yet in the strictest sense of the word. But he is old enough to maturely accept an offer made by someone who benefited from his muscle and hard work during Encounter Week with teens this past month. One of the families they helped approached Matthew with the opportunity to work a day or so a week mowing, weeding and helping the home owner with three houses. He immediately said yes.

Matthew's initial excitement, and my joy at knowing someone else valued his budding work ethic along with us, was slowly replaced over the next day or two with the realization that the commitment required something of both of us. For Matthew I think he began to wonder just what he'd be doing and if he was capable of doing the things he might be asked to do after the yard work was done. The homeowner is renovating one of the houses and needs help now and then with some of the harder work. I am sure he will learn much, but it will require a humble heart, willing to learn. I also think Matthew was wondering if he would miss being home all day. After all, we have a pretty good time here.

My initial joy was almost immediately balanced by the fact that my baby was growing up. That wee little thing that wiggled and giggled with me from the day I brought him home from his extended stay in the hospital was now big enough to spend the day taking direction from someone else. I would be letting him go out in to the big world on his own. I wouldn't be there to clean his scratches, encourage him to continue even when he was tired, or remind him to clean up his lunch mess. I wouldn't get to see the growing sense of accomplishment he'd have as he became confident in his work, or the smile he'd secretly be beaming from his eyes so he could still look unaffected should his boss compliment him. I would have to let go. Oh, I've let go before - after all he went away to camp last year, didn't he? And he has helped the neighbors with yard work now and then as well as taking some responsibility for our yard here at home without my standing in the middle of it, making sure he didn't cut off his toe in the mower. But this felt different. I'd be driving him to work, dropping him off, and only returning to get him when he was finished. No checking in. No updates. Just letting go.

I could hardly wait to see how he did. Don and I both went down to get him from 'the job'. We pulled in to the driveway and waited only a moment before his passive frame stood up from the stoop and headed to the car. No emotion. No cockiness. No fear or even false bravado. Just Matthew. Casual. Mellow. More grown up than he was just hours before. *sigh*

In his pocket was his first paycheck. He was very proud. He can now pay for his paintball supplies while at camp once again this year. Oh wait! That means I have to let go once again! I guess this is the way it will go from now on. It seems you spend years pouring yourself in to them, leading them, guiding them, molding them and enjoying them, only to have to let them go. My baby is growing up. I am so very proud of the young man he is becoming and I love him dearly. I hope he takes that with him wherever he goes. And remembers to come back for a hug and a goodnight kiss when he can.

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