This past summer I spent a few days with my 15-year-old son, my sister, and her kids at our family cabin at the lake. While my sister and I were visiting on the deck, we heard a commotion from the beach and went to check on the kids.
It was an uncharacteristically windy afternoon, and when we got down to the beach my eight-year-old niece told us the chair she put on our dock blew off and landed next to, and was stuck on our neighbor’s boat ramp.
While my niece was still explaining what happened to us, my son quickly moved into action. Before I could offer a solution, he was grabbing a kayak and was getting in the water to rescue the chair.
The wind was blowing so hard toward us that those of us wearing hats had to keep one hand on them so they wouldn’t blow off. The whitecaps were massive and kept slamming the chair into the boat ramp, and with each paddle my son made towards the ramp, the wind pushed him back to the beach.
While reassuring my niece that she wasn’t in trouble, I watched as my son battled the growing whitecaps and raging wind. I knew the chair wouldn’t be salvageable and retrieving it could wait until the storm died down, and as I stood on the beach watching him, I thought of several ways my son could get hurt. But I kept quiet.
Yes, the wind was blowing like crazy and the whitecaps were huge, and though he was breaking through the waves and entering deeper water, and any number of things could go wrong, I needed to let him do this.
I have become keenly aware that my 15 year-old baby boy who used to want to marry his mama had one foot in boyhood and the other in manhood, and I needed to let him be the man and rescue this chair. And he did.
He retrieved the broken chair, and as the wind blew him back to the beach in the kayak with one hand on the paddle and the other holding together the pieces of the chair, we cheered for him. And he smiled. He did something brave, and he was yet again, the hero to his younger cousins.
I can easily be a hindrance in my son’s growing into a man if I baby him, protect him too much, micromanage him, or deny him the opportunity to try new things and be challenged. My caution could lead to him being sheltered and immature in a variety of ways instead of becoming a courageous leader.
As our sons get older, we need to learn when to let them go and confidently watch them take steps towards manhood.
Retrieving a chair in a storm doesn’t make a man, but quick thinking, problem solving, risk taking, and jumping to the aid of others-especially the more vulnerable- are all stepping-stones towards manhood.
I intentionally look for opportunities and jobs for my son that will equip him to grow and mature and ask my husband and dad to include him in projects that will equip and empower him to be the man, husband, and father God created him to be.
This phase of motherhood is bittersweet; the realization that we are, indeed, just a stepping-stone into launching our children into the world as godly young men and women. Let’s give them our best while we have them.