I knew this day would come…and it has…
Today you officially swear in to the United States Army and begin your first day on active duty. You are pledging an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. You’re making a big grown up decision…You’re headed out to do big man things. No doubt having experiences you or I can’t even imagine as I sit here writing these words. You’ll be learning what it means to be a man, what it means to fight for something you believe in, what it means to not quit, and what it means to walk with integrity alongside your brother. You’re on the precipice of adulthood and on the first pages of a new chapter in the book of your life. I am both thrilled and terrified. All I can do is stand proudly in support of you and send up a prayer for your protection and strength…and know that I’ll be right here if you ever need me.
…but just last week you were 9 months old, finding your feet, testing the grip strength of your toes as you began to navigate the world on two feet instead of your hands and knees.
You were learning how to say “mama” and “dada” and “ba-eh-ball” (basketball).
Then you were 18 months old and jumping off the end of the coffee table with such gusto that I didn’t have the heart to tell you no. All I could do is be there for you if you fell.
At 2 1/2 you decided training wheels were for babies and you convinced your Daddy to help you learn how to ride your bike without them. He said you could do it…that you were ready. He had faith in you and I had faith in him. Your confidence and self assured attitude had everyone amazed. I knew all I could do was be there for you if you fell.
When we left Mississippi to move back home to the Triple R, as we pulled out of our driveway and onto the road you said “Mommy, can I be Tim now, not Timmy?”…and just like that, another milestone was made. You were 3 1/2.
That summer at the Triple R, you had all the college guys amazed as you rode your skateboard with the best of them and dropped in on the 5 ft ramp like a boss. I was more proud than scared, because, after all…you were my boy. Adventurous, fearless, confident…And all I could do is remind you to wear your helmet…and be there for you if you fell.
Then came your first day of school. And green mohawks, and baseball, and soccer, and music. We learned baseball wasn’t your thing. The desire not to get wacked with the ball outweighed the desire to play that sport. I get it…I’m with you on that one…no broken ribs or concussion is worth a home run. Soccer was fun, but those Soccer people…they’re WAY more serious about that sport than they need to be! Am I right?! No, we’re not giving up our lives and every school night and weekend to chase a ball up and down a field with other kids who are never going to be Olympic Soccer stars…sorry…
I remember your 6th birthday. That was the birthday of the drums! Thanks to your Big Daddy, your love of music was fostered and our house became just a little bit more…noisy. 😉 That lead to guitars and many nights of hearing you up in your room plucking away at whatever song had decided to make it to your fingers. You come by that music thing naturally…it’s a gift…keep a hold of that one.
The years passed in a blur and before I could blink you were 16 and getting your license. You had facial hair, and a man voice, and I now looked up to see your face instead of down. How is that possible? You were just 4 years old yesterday…literally…You bought your first truck and when you pulled out of the driveway and honked your horn…the sound of freedom for you…my heart drove away, too. I couldn’t think about all the “what if’s” of that new freedom you now possessed…If I did, it would paralyze me with fear, and who wants to live like that? All I could do is wave..and be there for you if you fell.
Today you step into the unknown. You’re stepping up. You’re saying “I’ll do it. I’ll do the thing. I’ll be brave. I won’t quit.” I’m not going to lie and tell you there’s not a part of me that’s not scared. The future is uncertain. The path unclear. Life is full of pain and hurt. But it’s also full of love and triumphs and goodness. No matter where you are, or what your job, tomorrow is not a guarantee. Just know that the One who guides your path also holds your future. The One who has gone before you is beside you to comfort you and behind you to hold you up!
Your roots run deep, Son, and they began to take root the moment you were placed in my arms 18 years ago. They are strong enough to hold you. They will anchor you to home and family and faith. There’ll be days when you feel like giving up…like this thing you’re doing is too hard…but DON’T give up!! Don’t quit! You ARE strong and your roots will ground you. Most things worth fighting for in this life are hard. Persevere. Be brave. Be kind. Be humble. Be strong…the kind of deep down strong that no one can break…you’ve got it in you…I know you do…
Your wings will carry you on to new adventures. To places and experiences yet unknown. Those wings are tricky things…they take some getting used to. You may trip on your face. You may crash. In fact, you can count on it. Dust yourself off, and get back to it. If you make a mistake, own it. If you mess up, fix it. If you hurt someone, make it right. Don’t ever be afraid to say “I messed up.” or “I’m sorry”. Don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s OK to laugh as you dust the mud off your pants and stand back up. If you get off the path, get back on it. Be the man we raised you to be. Be the man your Dad and I know you are. Be the man God intended you to be.
It may not be my job to correct, discipline, teach and “mother” you anymore. Those days are done…but I will always be your Mama! I will always love you unconditionally! Your Dad’s and my home will always be a safe place for you. And no matter what…I will always be here if you need me. You’re one of the good guys, Son! I could not be more proud of you!
All my love,