Note: I found this letter in an old folder. I wrote it to my son, Alex, 12 years ago when he was preparing for his high school graduation… and a new life away from home. Me? I was preparing for an empty nest and a new life at home, without my only child. It still resonates as truth for me, all these years later. I’m sharing this letter with all of the moms (and dads) who are preparing to see their children go off to college or move away. I remember it like it was yesterday.
Your dad and I love you far, far more than what we could ever put into words in any letter. But if we could…if I could, I would say…
I see my window of influence is closing and it will soon be time for you to stand strong and make your own footprints in this world. It seems like we’ve been preparing for this day since you first learned to walk. I remember the day when you took your first steps–one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve–baby steps, and then you fell into my arms.
And I scooped you up and we laughed and laughed because these were your first steps to independence. It seems we’ve been heading in that direction ever since.
It hasn’t been an easy journey for either of us…but I hope you will one day forgive me for loving you so much that I tried to carry you…even when it was best that you walked by yourself.
And now, as the window is closing, I am fearful for what I have not taught you. There is so much to learn and much to look forward to as you begin life on your own. I hope I’ve taught you the most important lessons about life…and ethics…and morality–if not through words, through deeds.
Life is a continuous journey uphill and as you wander through the peaks and the hills and the valleys–I hope you discover hobbits and rainbows along the way.
I know you are anxious to go.
But before you set off as a young man with hopes and dreams and passions, I want you to remember that somewhere now, between an adolescent and an adult, beats the strong, steady heart of a beautiful man.
I bet it surprises you that I call you a man. But what is a man?
A man is not defined by how many beers or girlfriends he can hold, nor by his size or weight, or his ability to benchpress 300 pounds or drive a four wheeler or throw a perfect spiral.
Some people are foolish enough to think that a real man is never scared, never afraid. But a real man is a man who is never afraid to be himself.
Being a man is being brave enough to say I’m sorry or I love you, or I forgive you.
Being a man is having the guts to know and do what is right; being a man is having the guts to not follow the pack; being a man is having the guts to roll up your sleeves and work hard for what you want; being a man is having the guts to be who you are and say what you really think; being a man is having the guts to get up when you’ve been kicked down. And most importantly, being a man is being a good and kind and loving person.
You are a man in more ways than you know, Alex.
God has blessed you with a good mind, good looks and health, and a good heart. So go forward on your journey Alex, and do good.
With all my love,
Empty nest created a profound shift for me, a transition into a new life, a new way of thinking and being. It also created changes of all sorts, some unexpected, but all necessary for me, like my son, to evolve for my next stage of life. If you’d like to read about navigating the midlife journey with integrity, harmony and grace, please consider my book, Tao Flashes. Or visit me at www.facebook.com/taoflashes. You may subscribe to my blog at www.taoflashes.wordpress.com.
P.S. If you’re reading this, I’m sending blessings to you during this period of transition or change in your family dynamics. Wishing you the best!