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!)
But back then? It was good for a laugh!
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.
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.
But you don’t delay the callings of manhood, just because that’s what your mama heart wishes for.
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.
This is my favorite shot from that night.
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.
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.
And the shoes. . .
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.