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Timeless truth in a changing world

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A Letter to My Teenage Son

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Dear Son,

This weekend you turned 14. Congratulations! You are turning into a young man right before my eyes. You are a bright and talented individual with your own unique personality. I am proud of the young man you are now, and excited to see the man you will become. I suppose it’s only natural at a birthday for a mom to stop and reflect on the passage of time, so indulge me for a few minutes and allow me to impart some wisdom from one generation to the next.

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Carpe Diem

Moving puts a lot of things into perspective. I’ve done this a number of times and one thing that always amazes me is how many things I cram in at the last minute. Get togethers, coffee dates, play dates for the kids- it always seems I’m scrambling to fit everything in at the end, in the midst of the craziness of packing. So I’m challenging myself and you to seize the moment- carpe diem, if you will- and make time for the things that matter.

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Vanity of Vanities

“John D. and 24 others like your status.”

“Barb S. and 10 others +1 your photo.”

“Greg T. and 6 others commented on your post.”

“@someone_special favorited your tweet.”

Do these statements look familiar? If you’re registered with one of the big social networks, you are probably bombarded with alerts like this throughout the day. And if you’re like most social site butterflies, you get a euphoric kick when people comment/share/like what you have to say. But do you place too much importance and value on your social media success?

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Empty Nest Syndrome

My 8-year old has empty nest syndrome.  Yes, you read that correctly.  And I mean that in a rather literal sense.  You see, those four hatched baby robins I mentioned just two weeks ago in Signs of Spring are gone already. The birds grew quickly, and the last one just flew away on Saturday.  We had a special vantage point for that nest.  We could sit at our kitchen table and peek out the window to see the nest from behind.  We could watch it in safety without scaring the mother away, and we built a little bond with those birds.  We got excited when she laid her eggs.  We were even more excited when they hatched.  We could see the mother bring worms and watch the babies’ scrawny little beaks reach up to grab their food.  We watched as they got bigger and the nest became more crowded.  The first one left as early as this past Tuesday.  We found him on the patio and walked far around so as not to disturb him or leave our scent on him.  We watched to see if he was hurt or just waiting, and soon enough, he flew away on his own.  Then we watched as the others got bolder and started inching out along the drainpipe, flapping their wings as they still sat in safety.  Then finally on Saturday, the last one got his courage and flew across the yard to the forsythia bush.  We all cheered.  It was a thrilling moment.  And then it hit us- they’re gone.  Our 8-year old started to cry, and I’m not gonna lie to ya, I was a bit teary-eyed myself.  The nest is empty now; abandoned.  It’s a lonely feeling.  And those birds provided us with a microcosm of life.

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The Cat’s in the Cradle

Who can forget the haunting words of Harry Chapin’s 1974 hit song “Cat’s in the Cradle?”  As a child I could sing along with the memorable refrain:

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
“When you coming home, dad?” “I don’t know when,
But we’ll get together then.
You know we’ll have a good time then.”

Even as a child something about this song got to me. I couldn’t put a finger on it but it made me sad somehow.  Perhaps it was the tune, maybe it was Chapin’s voice, possibly even the words themselves, or maybe a combo of all three.  Growing up, I “knew” (though didn’t completely understand) that it was about a dad who never really made time for his son, then watched in sadness as his son grew up and had no time for him either.  He finally came to the tragic conclusion, “He’d grown up just like me.  My boy was just like me.”  (Even as I type this I’m fighting back tears.)
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