This is the calm before the storm.
In just over an hour I’ll pick up my 17-year-old and head to a nearby elementary school so he can usher in the first of three delivery trucks. From there a chaos will erupt that should last through Sunday.
My son is running on empty. We’ve had a busy few weeks and I worry he’s going to reach stress-fracture stage soon. He’s been to every hardware and garden center in the region, soliciting supplies and donations. He’s been trying to run regularly because there’s a timed running test coming up. He spent three days working a youth yard sale, where he lifted, on-loaded, off-loaded, and then, after sale, re-loaded heavy furniture until he was so spent he could barely stay awake for the ride to the Junior Prom that night, but he did his part.
Yet, he keeps going.
I was watching him Wednesday at MANDATORY band practice putting everything he had into finding the right cords on his piano. To look at him, you wouldn’t know he’d just left another hour-long after-school session of Driver’s Ed, or that he would leave this practice and change in the car on the way to scouts. (Yes, moms, I made him eat something.)
I watched him at the scout meeting, discussing building and planning issues with the adults and cajoling friends and new scouts to give up their Saturday mornings and come help him put six garden beds together at the school—one for each grade. He looked so grown up and at ease. Only Mom and Dad knew about the history project weighing on his mind that he’d had to push to after the meeting (when we arrived home at 9:30 p.m.), or that he’d be taking his driving test the next day and could really use a good night’s sleep.
Nothing on his plate is difficult, but many milestone events are intersecting – driving test, Eagle Scout project, final exams, running, Youth Sunday at the church, and oh yes, homework. I actually let him sleep in one morning this week and then do his homework, missing first period (shhh – probably frowned upon in Academia, but sometimes common sense steps in).
Through it all, he has remained focused and outwardly calm. Of course, his eyes close every second that he isn’t busy, but he’s remarkably on the ball otherwise. We haven’t even had the usual struggle to get chores completed. The trash disappears as if by magic, animals get fed, and the dishwasher keeps emptying.
I can’t find my boy anywhere.
The mom in me wants so much to rescue him from this stressful time, take something from his plate, baby him a little longer. But the parent in me sees how much he’s growing as he deals with unanswered emails, typos on fliers, and confusion over deliveries, and feels only pride. I’m seeing a man develop here, one with deep convictions about responsibility and one who is learning early that if you can’t do it all, just do what’s next. As long as you do your best, that’s all you can do.
But the greatest aspect of all this is seeing him pray. We pray every morning for stamina, endurance, and wisdom, and he is aware that his life and all these activities are in God’s hands, so we have peace despite the brewing storm. Although he’s acutely eager to do a good job tomorrow and has put a lot of effort into making this project come together, I know he understands it’s but a blip in eternity and that his relationship with the Lord is more important than anything else.
Yes, he passed his driver’s test yesterday, and by the end of tomorrow will have built his garden beds. He will play with the band Sunday and then write an after-action report on the project and start studying for finals. He may not pass the physical fitness test with flying colors (sorry Jim), but he will pass because he will do his best.
I walked into his room a few minutes ago, pondering where my little boy might have gone. The LEGOs are gradually being pushed aside to make room for an expanding coin collection, children’s’ books have been replaced by thick hardcover novels, and I see few remnants of his childhood. I made my way to his desk and open the top drawer. I needed to look no further. My boy is still here. He may be a man on the outside, strong, honest, hard-working, kind, funny, and capable, but as long as he always has at least one drawer filled with forks and eyeballs, I’ll know he isn’t taking life too seriously.
Charles, I admire you and the man you are becoming. The pride in my heart is indescribable. I love watching you grow and mature, and take on new responsibilities. I will not worry because I know God’s hand is on you, and he knows where you’re heading and what he’s preparing you for. Take God seriously, not life, and you’ll be fine.
Now, about those forks…
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.—Proverbs 16:3