Two little lines. Two lines stared back at me and my entire life changed. It was August 9, 1997. I was 22 years old. I was going to be a mother. I prepared the best I could and I kept a journal. I prayed that God would help me be a good mom and keep you safe. I hoped that I would be able to deal with raising a boy…I was so nervous about having a boy. I knew more than anything, that I loved you even before I met you.
The day arrived for your birth and I braced myself for the task of laboring you into this world. It wasn’t easy. We both had a hard time and at one point they talked of bringing you here through a surgery. But I persevered despite the insanity and finally, you were here. And I couldn’t quit counting your toes and smelling the wonder of who you were and desperately trying to not be so selfish…I didn’t want to share you with anyone.
For 3 short years it was just you and I, every day and the 3 of us at night…a little family. I tried to make your world as big possible. We went to the park and the museum and the zoo. We read books and built buildings out of blocks. We ate food we shouldn’t and watched movies when we could and skipped church more times than I can count. I made mistakes and I kept asking God to make up for my lack while I poured as much love and energy into you that I could find.
I thought you were the cutest, most amazing boy in the entire world. And then your sister arrived and you amazed me. You stepped up to the task of being a big brother with everything you had. You would get diapers for me and you would tell her it would be all right while she screamed. When she became mobile and another sister joined our family, you and her were inseparable friends. You kept her busy and watched for her while I took care of the baby.
You always surprised me. When you were three-ish…you walked into the church, looked at me, said “Bye” and took off running. You had people to see, places to go and you didn’t need your momma holding you back. And you know, it’s pretty much been that way ever since. I took the hugs you would give whenever they were available. I enjoyed the way you would snuggle up and listen to me read. I would smile to find you, along with your sisters, jumbled up in the middle of our bed when we awoke in the morning. And the whole time I kept telling myself, “Remember this. You’re going to miss this.”
And then the day arrived. You were ready. I was not. Kindergarten. We drove to school, you, your sisters, your dad and I. It wasn’t the first time you’d been gone—you’d spent 3 years in Pre-school. But this, I knew, was a turning point in your life. No longer would I be the source of your knowledge and worldview. And I knew the days of you needing my hand, my protection, me…were slowly disappearing.
Many people influenced and shaped your early years. The teacher who taught you to read, write and all the State Capitals. The tutor who unlocked a world of reading and writing and encouraged us to change your learning environment. Your 3rd grade teacher who patiently dealt with a mother torn between two worlds and who instilled in you a love of fantasy fiction and learning. The science teacher who spent an entire day with you dissecting a baby shark, who gave you a love for science and all things messy. Your beloved 5th grade teacher who couldn’t wait for the annual trip to the rock museum because she wanted to see your face light up when you saw all those rocks. Your 6th grade home room teacher who loved the way you’d sneeze every morning. I’m told you sneezed 100 times in one day! The instructor at Jiu Jitsu who opened the world of martial arts…a love that you never left. All these people influenced your early years and I’m grateful for each one of them.
Then life changed. Your dad and I decided to travel across the country in an RV. While your sisters were not thrilled with the idea, you embraced the adventure and discovered our shared love of traveling. This decision required us to begin our homeschooling journey and once again I became your source of knowledge and worldview. And oh what an adventure it’s been!
You and I have learned together. We’ve learned to be patient and persistent. We’ve learned that some days lesson plans win and some days adventure wins. We’ve explored topics from astrophysics to dinosaurs to philosophy. You’ve asked me questions that have stretched me beyond myself and changed my own worldview. You endured hours of my crazy ideas about life and faith and love. You rolled with the punches as we discovered which style of learning worked best for our family. When I told you that you could decide your own future, you listened. I gave you the keys to your life and watched as you set specific goals and tackled them.
You switched gyms and began the journey to Mastery. KJN Dan taught you the characteristics of a master. You learned to persevere, to show respect and honor and to always strive for the next level of mastery. I was so proud when you received your black belt.
You decided to pursue working with metal so we enrolled you in the local high school. At the end of the 1st semester we knew you were going to be a welder. It was with much prayer, trust and faith that I agreed to spending your last year of high school at a vocational school. Again you surprised me when you pursued and obtained your GED, WITH HONORS, so you could enroll in the college.
For 10 months I’ve anticipated this day. It’s made me happy and sad. It’s caused me joy and anxiety. It’s left me in tears more days than I can count. Honestly, I’m not sure how we’ve both survived this journey. But we did and I’m so proud of the young man you are today.
Today your family & friends celebrate who you are and the choices you’ve made to get you to this day. We celebrate the accomplishments you have made: A black belt. A GED with honors. A certificate of welding AND…you are now officially the first graduating class of Shiloh Homeschool.
But most of all I celebrate the gift given to us, 18 years ago, and thank the Father for granting me the wisdom and strength and endurance to raise you. I didn’t know what I was doing the day you arrived, and honestly I still don’t know what I’m doing. I only know that all these days of hard work, endurance, patience, grace, mercy and love have not been wasted. You are indeed an amazing young man…and I cannot express enough how proud I am of you.
Years ago I heard the song “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts and it became my song for you.
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.
I love you. I love the days I’ve been your momma and your teacher and your counselor and your guide. I love the memories we’ve made. I’ve loved every moment and I know there are more to come. Your parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles, family and friends stand here today with you. We have nurtured you all these years. We are releasing you to walk your journey. You will never be alone, we will always be behind you.
My prayer for you, from Psalms 121. Look to the mountains—your help comes from there. From the one who made heaven and earth. He will not let you stumble. He never slumber or sleeps, but always watches over you. He will stand beside you, providing you shade from the sun, shelter from the storms and warmth whenever you are cold. He will keep you from harm and watch over your life. He will watch over you as you come and go, now and forever. Go boldly into your future.