It seems like just yesterday I was chasing my son as he crawled around the living room trying to eat lint and stick his fingers in light sockets and pull books off of the shelf and onto his head. Parenting seemed so complicated then, so frenetic and demanding.
I assumed that it would get easier and it does in some ways and doesn’t in others.
I remember watching him at the lake last summer as he knelt near the shoreline trying to catch a frog. When he was little, I never imagined that he would ever be still, that he would be capable of patience yet there he was, so quiet that the frog never saw him coming.
When it comes to my kids, I am like that frog. I rarely know what’s coming.
It’s easy when they are small to keep them safe. You grab tiny hands before they get shocked. It’s easy to answer their questions because their questions are simple, requests that you can grant or things with concrete explanations.
“Yes, you can have a piece of candy.”
“A frog starts out as a tadpole.”
As they get older, you can try to keep them safe but you can’t keep them from getting hurt and the dangers they face are less often about bumps and bruises and more often about the doubts and fears and insecurities that find their way into fragile souls. The questions become more complex and I find that I don’t always have answers or the answers I do have are not at all comforting.
“When I get to high school and meet a girl I like, do you think that having two moms could hurt my chances with her?”
We are far beyond candy and tadpoles.
I want to tell him that that would never happen, that girls his age don’t think that way anymore and I want to say that a girl who does isn’t worth his time but I take a breath because I want to give a thoughtful response.
He stares at me and I stare back at his gorgeous eyelashes and those blue, blue eyes and I give him what I’ve always tried to give him – the truth.
“I don’t know.”
He nods and says, “I wouldn’t want to be with someone homophobic anyway.”
We sit in silence for a moment – a moment filled with the reality of the world we live in, a world in which bigotry is still far too common. He may be 11 but he is not naive.
I smile and say, “One thing I do know – you are a catch!”
He laughs, “You have to say that! You’re my mom!”
“No, I really believe that.”
And I do.
He laughs again as he stands to leave. He tosses a “Whatever” over his shoulder as he walks away.
I can’t help but wonder what’s next but maybe it’s best that we don’t know what’s coming. Maybe we do our best when we stay still and wait. Maybe things never get easier.