It started with a simple question . . .
It all started with a simple question. Do you have Nick’s birth certificate? Simple enough, yet it profoundly impacted me. You see my son is getting married and his fiancé Molly needed his birth certificate to get their marriage license. They were engaged in February and it was now August, three days before the wedding and it was just sinking in with me? Umm, Yes.
I was giving his birth certificate away. It was his now. His to have for his new journey. He was leaving us to begin his new life. I have to let go. We’re going from a family of 5 to a family of 6. We are welcoming someone incredibly special into our lives but at the same time I find myself a little melancholy.
When raising my son, I had thought over the years about what it would be like to be a mother in law. How would I welcome someone into our family? I didn’t have a great experience when I entered my husband’s family. Would I make it difficult on my future daughter in law? Would I be able to let go of my son and embrace the new?
I find myself looking back at all my years with Nick and a part of me feels like life is moving too quickly. How can I possibly be this old? Where did the time go? Wasn’t it just a few years ago that he was just a chubby, curly haired, sausaged hand toddler?
I’ve been blessed enough to watch him grow into the man he is today. He has a quiet strength about him. Always a man of few words but when he does speak it has depth and meaning. He’s stubborn and determined. He worked hard to achieve his goal of becoming a pilot and accomplished it.
As his mother, I wonder if I’ve done enough. Have I taught him the right things? (Actually, I do wonder, how much have I damaged him from my mistakes!). I know I had a small part in helping Nick become the man he is today, but Nick is who he is, not because of me, but because of everyone and everything he has experienced and what he has done with what he has learned. He came into this world to touch it and make his mark. He is a man I’m proud to call my son.
Never at a loss for a date. I watched him navigate the world of dating and his first love. It was painful to watch him get his heart broken and more painful to watch him never letting anyone get close. He was determined to not to get hurt again. Then came Molly. She too has a quiet strength about her and the same determination. She came into our lives quietly. Never making any demands. What we saw was a sweet, kind, intelligent, giving woman with a great sense of humor who loved Nick. So simple yet so profound. She loved my son unabashedly. What I have always wished for my children is someone to love them as much or more than I do. Molly was that person. She has stuck by Nick through the years with a quiet determination, knowing he was the one. She has built him up when he was down, she has remained steady when he was questioning, she gave him space to grow, she’s supported his career aspirations and the time it took to get there, she has embraced his family, in short – she has truly loved all of who Nick is. I couldn’t wish for more.
So why the melancholy? I guess it’s a part of my life is coming to a close. As my Mom would say on the yard stick of life, I’ve just moved up a notch. The chubby, curly haired toddler is a man now. Ready to create his own family with Molly. He’ll take what we’ve taught him and together with what Molly has learned they'll create their new life. A merging of the two.
I began a list of things I wished for Nick and Molly.
I wish them happiness. I wish them laughter. I wish them growth in faith. I wish them long lives together. I wish them wonderful children. I wish the love they have today continues to grow.
But when making this list I realized my wish list was about smooth sailing and happiness. I needed to add to that list. You see, life happens. It can be beautiful but it can also be ugly and painful. What I have found in life is that with the greatest challenges comes the greatest growth but it can be painful to get there.
As a parent, I’d like to put you in a cocoon and protect you from the harshness in life. But no matter how much I wish for that, life is going to throw you curve balls. I have just been given an incredible curve ball – my second journey with cancer. Even though, this journey has been incredibly tough, this curve ball has given me the most incredible gift – your father. I would like to be standing here today fully whole, with my own hair and not feeling so punky but then I look at what your father has given me: all of his unconditional love, strength and support and I feel blessed. He's loved me as I am. He's listened to my fears and anxiety. He's made me laugh in tough times, and been my rock when I didn’t feel so strong. He has supported me through everything. How can I not feel gratitude? This is what marriage is. Growing together through the bumps that life is going to give you. Finding your faith and strength through each other. Giving each other unconditional love and support when you are feeling terrified of the outcome. Finding humor and laughing with each other through the good times and the tears. Having gratitude for everything you’re given.
This is life. May you navigate it together with the quiet determination and love you both possess for each other. Grow, laugh, have faith in each other. Embrace all that life gives you. And most of all, enjoy every step of your incredible journey together. I love you.