I had a wonderful day today. I spent most of the day with my middle child, my Matty. He came to our house from where he lives about an hour away, responding to my request for help in cleaning up our yard for the spring. We have a lot of yard and a lot of garden beds, and my aging and arthritic arms and shoulders were hoping for some assistance in getting it all ready for the growing season. Matt did not disappoint; he came early and joined me with a rake in hand.
We got a lot accomplished, but more than that, we talked to each other.
When he was a little one, my Matt was quiet and reserved; it took a lot of extra time and quiet for him to speak up and say whatever was on his mind.
With two gregarious siblings, it was important for Matt to find a way to express himself. I used to take him off on his own to be sure that I could hear his voice and give him a chance to share his thoughts. Throughout his childhood, Matt was my “strong, silent” child. He was the one I most often worried and wondered about. “What is he thinking? How does he feel?”. I sometimes felt that he was the one I was failing; the one I couldn’t quite decode.
Today, Matt came in and greeted me with a huge hug and big kiss on the cheek. I stood back to look at him, taking in his height, his strength, his shining green eyes and his broad smile. I snapped into Momma mode and made him a big breakfast, then we headed out to walk the dogs, then to work in the garden.
From the first moment today, Matt and I just talked and listened and shared. He is a thoughtful, mindful, intellectually curious young man, and it was enormously fun to spend a day with him. Through the course of the afternoon, while we walked, raked, shopped and cleaned up, we talked and talked and talked. Matt has been reading everything that he can get his hands on, covering a range of topics from international politics to religious philosophy to comparative mythology. I had to stretch my intellectual powers to keep up, but it was incredibly exciting and interesting to listen to what my boy had to say. We debated, we argued, we shared our observations.
We finished our chores, relaxed in the hot tub, and shared a delicious meal (oven braised beef brisket….YUM). Then we cleaned the kitchen and off he went, back to his real life.
And so I sit here now, thinking back on a lovely and reassuring day. And I have come to a funny realization.
In a strange moment of synchronicity, Matt and I find ourself in very much the same spot.
This “empty nest” Momma and her 21 year old son are both standing on the brink of something new. We are both working hard to stay calm and settled as we look into the future and try with all our might to see what lies in wait for us.
We are both struggling with fear and insecurity, but we are both hopeful about creating our own “next steps”. Like every young adult who is unsure of what lies ahead, Matt is trying find a meaningful role for himself in the world. He wants to contribute, to make life better by his actions. He wants to find a way to change the world and to make a difference that will let him feel proud of himself.
I find myself wrestling with the very same questions as I leave my mothering days behind me and head into the great unknown.
Like Matt, I wonder, “What is my role?” and “Who am I in the grand scheme of things?” I struggle to keep control of my emotions and my reactions to the events in my life; I try to stay focused and to always look forward. I try to be positive, but its a battle. I’m not so good at any of that, but Matt is my example.
Here’s to young people who keep life interesting, who ask good questions, who help us all to believe that the future can be brighter because of our actions. Here’s to my boy, who has grown into a fascinating and talented man.