Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Trying On Manhood

When Nathan was home from college one summer, he and Steve spent an evening going through Steve’s closet to see what dress clothes could be passed on to Nathan to help build his professional wardrobe. When I caught wind of the proceedings, I found a corner of the bedroom where my camera and I could hang out and I contentedly captured the evening’s moments and memories.

Steve had gained a bit of weight since he’d last worn one particular suit and when he attempted to put it on again, he had a teensy bit of difficulty getting it buttoned--much to Nathan’s delighted amusement. And since Steve could no longer wear said suit, he went ahead and bequeathed it to Nathan. (Note: In an interesting turn of events, Steve has now lost enough weight so that the suit fits him again—and he’s wearing it to Nathan’s wedding!)

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But back then? It was good for a laugh!

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As I continued to happily watch from my corner, Steve and Nathan moved along to a few other suits and shirts from Steve’s closet.

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I thought of how very different Nathan (the perpetual wearer of basketball shorts and t-shirts) looked when he put on Steve’s dress clothes. Frankly, it made me feel just a bit discomfited because I wasn’t quite ready for him to make that transition from basketball shorts to power ties. I wanted him to stay young. And at home. I wanted him to never, ever fly away.

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But you don’t delay the callings of manhood, just because that’s what your mama heart wishes for.

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Even with the slightly serious undertones of the evening, it made me smile to see that despite the threads of adulthood resting on his shoulders, Nathan could still shift into goofy mode at the drop of a hat. I was comforted to know that some things in life just never change.

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This is my favorite shot from that night.

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Just recently when we were in Florida for Nathan’s college graduation, Steve, Sarah and I went with Nathan and Meagan for his tux fitting. Harkening back to that earlier time during his summer break, I found a spot in the corner for myself and my camera so that I could snap pictures of my son as he once again tried on manhood.

Halfway through the trying on process, I had to take a little break and step out in the hallway to wipe some tears.

Why tears?

Because I thought about the fact that when Nathan was trying on Steve’s suits and ties back in his college days, he was still a single, carefree fella. The jackets could be put on and taken off without a second thought because, at the end of the day, nothing in his life had changed.

But on this particular day? This was big stuff. This was trying on something for a wedding. For his wedding. For life. Forever.

As I saw the tux settle on his shoulders, I thought of the weight of responsibility that will be his when he puts his arms through those jacket sleeves and goes to stand at the front of the church to await his gorgeous bride.

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And the shoes. . .

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As I watched him lace them up and pull them tight--even as I noted the symbolic juxtapositioning of the serious wedding shoe next to the casual flip flop--I wondered what roads those shoes would take him down. I wondered what marvelous, challenging, frustrating and glorious roads he and Meagan would walk together.

And then I cried a bit more. (Because that’s what mothers-of-the groom do, right?) As I saw Nathan and Meagan take one more step toward spending their lives together, I was happy for them both. And nervous. And excited. And so very proud.

But more than any other feeling experienced at that moment, I felt the settled certainty that the days of Nathan trying on manhood were over. The little boy I had tucked into bed, the teenager I’d had long conversations with, the young man I had sent off to college was at last putting on the clothes of manhood for real. And as I watched him, I hoped that I had prepared him well, and paved a good path; I hoped that Steve and I had modeled for him a healthy and joyful marriage. I was thankful for the privilege of spending twenty-one years with him, years that had helped to shape him into the kind of man who will be the godly, responsible, faithful, and nurturing husband that Meagan has been praying for all these years.

And then I cried a little more.

But now that the tears are dry and the moment has passed, I just want to say one thing.

Nathan, son, manhood looks great on you.

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9 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

Donna T. said...

Oh my gosh, such a touching post. It even made me cry, just like the story you told when he was going off to college. With my son being a couple of years younger than Nathan, you are helping me prepare for the upcoming changes that I know will be happening in the near future when my son starts "Trying on Manhood". At least you are getting me ready for the flood of emotions that I know will accompany such changes!

Sue G said...

And, my dear cyber friend, motherhood becomes you! You have instilled in both your children roots of truth and love so deep that the foundations of their lives will grow richly and prosper.

Because of your willingness to openly share over the years you have taught me a lot. And I am grateful.

Jenna said...

Beautifully written and spoken from the heart.

Anonymous said...

Bec, you rang the bell again.

Steve

Catherine said...

I was feeling this way this past 30 days when my high school graduate donned various tuxes for proms and graduations. No wedding for my gang yet.

Will you share your mother of the bride dress trying ons--not the final pick, of course, since we are eagerly awaiting that pic(k) for when the wedding pictures are posted. I was feeling this way this past 30 days when my high school graduate donned various tuxes for proms and graduations. No wedding for my gang yet.

Will you share your mother of the bride dress trying ons--not the final pick, of course, since we are eagerly awaiting that pic(k) for when the wedding pictures are posted? I am more eagerly awaiting the view of your dress, as I will probably going down that path in the next 10 years, maybe a number of times.

JeanC said...

Thanks for this great post, it's such a joy to see young adults making such a graceful transition to adulthood, congrats to you and Steve for being such good role models!

Eagerly looking forward to the wonderful wedding photos that will be here in no time!

Best to you and your family,

Jean C

Anonymous said...

I cried (am crying) as I read your post. What a touching post that only another mamma's-heart could possibly understand. And Becky, while I only know you and Steve through the cyber-world, I am positive that you have molded and shaped Nathan to be that godly, faithful and supportive husband Megan has prayed for. Nathan is part of a solid, godly, respected, loving family..... Megan is so lucky to be coming a part of the Smith family!!
Deb Mathy
Gb, WI

Karen C said...

Yes, Mom, manhood looks very good on Nathan ... and very thankful that he has found someone with whom to share the rest of his life that is just the right person.

Beautiful, heartfelt post and pictures .. beautiful past, beautiful future.

Lisa from Georgia said...

Oh my, I can barely see through my tears to type this post. What a capture of a moment in time...one that has been long-anticipated yet also not exactly looked-forward to. You certainly have instilled a model of marital love and mutual respect as well as an enduring the tough times with grace and integrity~a rare gift today.
Blessings as you continue to let go in order to grab more...isn't that what we are taught...we must have open hands to receive?
Lisa from Georgia