Today is my son’s 10th birthday. For 10 impossibly short years I’ve had the privilege of waking up every morning knowing I am his mommy. It is an honor so profound that I have trouble finding words to describe it.
A few weeks ago, Caleb requested that we take him on a hike. He then whined the entire way up Great Blue Hill. Just before we hit the summit, I asked him if he liked hiking. I suspect you can guess what his response was in that moment.
In response, I told him, “Hills are hard, dude, but you will love the view from the top.” And he did. He also whined the entire way back down because downhill may be easier physically, but it’s a lot scarier when you can see how far you could fall.
Inevitably, when I get to the end of one of these hikes I think to myself, “What was I thinking?” I’m sure I could have found pictures on-line and spared myself the exertion of the climb and the fear of the descent…for what? For a hazy view of the Boston skyline?
But it’s not about the view from the top. My life with him will never be about the view from the top…it will always be about the journey we are on together. Yes, there are times we can rest and enjoy the fruits of our labor but that’s not why we spend weekends hiking together, not really. We do it because I love the feeling of his hand in mine as I help him over an obstacle. We do it because he loves moving forward and meeting people on the trail. We do it because we love to have the chance to be proud of each other. Our hikes are full of praise and support…him supporting and praising me as much as I do him.
“Good job, Money! You did it!” “Thanks bud!”
“You OK, Monkey?” “Yeah, I good.”
My absolute favorite part of the hikes though is seeing him leave me behind. I remember all those years of him clinging to my hand tightly, terrified I would let go and he would slip. I remember the in between years when he knew I would always be one step behind him, giving him the confidence to let go…if he slipped, he knew I’d catch him. Now suddenly we are in a new decade and I am realizing that 10 is actually a mountaintop for us. It was an unexpected joy to realize that we’re now in an new era…one in which I am more and more often many steps behind him, calling out encouragement as he seeks his own way up.
I thought we’d be so much older before this happened. I thought I would be sadder as well. I had no idea that every “I got it.” would just redouble my awe of him, my pride in him, my love for him. I had no idea this would become my new favorite view of him…
I wonder what he’ll teach me next?