In The Presence of a Man
I lost my little boy today…
Last thing I remember was singing him to sleep and holding him tightly, promising to never let him go. This morning however, he crossed through the gates to the other side and never looked back.
I don’t even feel like I got to say a proper goodbye. One minute he was there and the next, gone. I just stood there in stunned disbelief, remembering all the good times and thinking about all the things I still hadn’t taught him.
I definitely wasn’t ready for this moment, that much I know for sure. He certainly can’t be ready for the next stage of his life. What if he gets hurt? Who’s going to be there to make it better? What if he can’t get his lunch bag opened? He’ll starve to death! As I went through all the terrible scenarios in my head, all I kept repeating was “This can’t be happening! This can’t be happening!”
The reality is, it WAS happening and there was nothing I could do about it but stare in awe of the fine young man my wife and I had created and raised. My little boy had crossed the gates into manhood and I’ve never EVER been so proud in all my life!
Our walk to the school this morning was a long one for sure. My son had no idea the emotions that were swirling around the minds of my wife and I, but hopefully someday he will. That pit in your stomach as you feel like you are walking the longest plank, to imminent doom.
I hope that someday he will get to experience this moment with his own children. Maybe then he will understand that all the crying and stress from his parents wasn’t about sadness or anger, but a totally different emotion that overpowers all others.
Pride. Because that’s all I feel for him on this day as he embarks on his new journey.
I’m proud of him for having the courage to take that next step. I’m proud of him for making sure to hug his sister before he left us today. I’m proud of how he coloured in the lines at the teacher interview yesterday and how he counted to 30 and sang the alphabet song as if he’d been doing it his whole life. I’m proud of every accomplishment he has ever achieved and everything he still has left to do in his life.
Everyone told me I would love being a father, but no one warned me about the pride. Seriously, why did no one tell about this part? How am I supposed to be “Big, Tough Daddy” when I start to well up when my son beams about passing his first swimming class? If that’s the kind of thing that sets me off, what’s going to happen when he scores his first goal in hockey? (Okay, we haven’t discussed sports yet but c’mon, we are Canadian!)
The important lesson I learned today is that while my kids still have a lot of learning and growing to do, so do their Mommy and Daddy! I have to learn how to deal with all these emotions while continuing to maintain control of myself. All I wanted to do after we dropped him off today was to curl up in bed until it was time to go get him. I didn’t do that, but it was definitely on my mind.
As it turns out, he did just fine at his first day of school. As he says “I didn’t even cry, not once!” and “I even opened my snack box and now there’s nothing left in it!” with that big ol’ grin of his. My son is more than ready for school and I couldn’t be more proud of him for it.
I lost my little boy today…but I gained a wonderful young man!