Sunday, March 4, 2012

Becoming a man . . . mazel tov

What does that even mean?  Is it the physical appearance when a child morphs into an adult?  Is it by thoughts, deeds, actions, words?  Is it the first time when the peach-fuzz turns to whiskers and are ripe for removal?  It is the confluence of all of these and then some.

Recently, my man-child walked through the door of mechanical exfoliating the child-fuzz that has been part of his face since he was young.  This very banal and commonplace ritual sparks the immediate loss of childhood for me in a way that rattles my bones.

Compared to other first rituals such as losing teeth, a first kiss, losing virginity, it is all weighted the same in my eyes.  They are steps along the road to adulthood that I am so ill prepared for.  I think that this is so hard because he is my only, my one, and also I have struggled with confidence that he feels the same way about me.

However, with the loss of the soft fuzzy hair came an understanding that I have been longing for.  He does see me as his only and his one.

While the stress of separation and homesickness has caused him to feel many emotions, he wrote with clarity about his connection to me--his mother.  He knows and feels the depths of my love and commitment to him; he feels the unconditional love and acceptance; he has a safety net when times get tough; and is secure to make mistakes without rejection and judgement.  It is what we all wish for with our children and mine was able to express it to me.

As we walk along the path from child to man and the bumps punch the air out of our lungs, it is good to  feel the exhale as if it is our first breath of life.

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And which is more; you'll be a Man, my son!
If  . . .  Rudyard Kipling