Last weekend I was reminded again of the value of stepping back, and today, a week later, I’m still touched by the moments leading to this action.
Alex, our 19-year-old son, was home for the weekend and as we often do on fall Saturdays we were sitting on the sofa watching college football games, both with iPads in hand. I was looking at news updates and he at jewelry. Interesting, I thought as I snuck a peek at his screen.
Moments later he asked my opinion on a glimmering necklace adorned with an opal-October’s birthstone. “Very nice,” I commented. Adding, “In fact, it’s beautiful. I love it,” secretly wondering if it was for a young woman, his “friend” since moving to South Dakota. Yes it was. Her birthday is October 14th and he wanted to get her something nice with her birthstone on it.
I acted cool. I praised him for planning ahead for this special event and commented on his good taste and ability to comparison shop. He asked me to look for other options on my iPad-something that would be better than his initial choice. I went through the motions and presented him some choices but never offered anything that came close to his vision of a gift to impress her. How could I? I would never trump the thought and heart that went into this birthday gift. He placed the order, had me review it for accuracy and then closed his iPad.
Sitting side-by-side on the sofa, I felt the warmth of this mother and son interaction and knew the feeling of this experience was one I wanted to remember as long as I had a memory. Being asked my opinion on such a special gift purchase gave me pause and made my mind rush to the day when he may purchase an engagement ring. I surely didn’t want to be overbearing or opinionated. I wanted to remain as detached and unemotional as he was outwardly appearing, while at the same time expressing my joy as a woman about his selection and forecasting her delight in being the recipient of such thoughtfulness.
Alex has sought my input on many things since leaving for college over a year ago, but never one quite as sentimental and meaningful as this. I will admit that initially it was a bit of a role shift to move from day-to-day management of his life to waiting to be invited into his decision making process. However, what I came to realize is that by stepping back, he was stepping up and more selectively seeking input, often on matters with more meaning and certainly more consequences.
Stepping up, assuming responsibility and seeking input are seismic movements from boyhood into manhood.
Originally written October 13, 2014
Copyright. May 2015. Linda Leier Thomason