How Many Days to Raise a Boy?

Yesterday I was relaxing and holding my sweet precocious little guy while he slept and thinking about how fast the days are flying by us.  It seems like just yesterday we were planning for his arrival.  Now we’re chasing him while he laughs, pulling him off of high places he shouldn’t be, and sometimes taking a golf club to the shin in all the fun.  And if it seems that the past 19 months have flown by, I look at Drew and can hardly believe that 8 years have gone by.  But yet I can’t remember life before him. 

Then I realize, we’re almost half way through the years of Drew at home.  We’ve already had the biggest impact we will on his personality, esteem, values and learning.  From here on we’re reinforcing what we’ve taught, intentionally or not.  We’re closer to the start of this journey with Ben, and I was just thinking that I’m glad for more days to mother and love on him, glad that we’re not so near the finish.

My boys and I recently

But I started debating how many years it would be before they were ‘raised’.  Is it 18 when they’re legally adults, or 21 or so when they finish school (I hope) or when they’re married and on their own, or…?  Maybe it’s none of those.  Maybe a parent’s job is never quite done, because when do you stop needing loving guidance of someone who loves you more than themselves?

Often when a missing person is an adult, the heartbreak and urgency is lost on those not close to them.  But to those that love them, they don’t need us any less.  They may need us less in the physical sense, but that’s far from everything.

No matter how old our kids get, we still are teaching them, guiding them, loving on them.  We’re still pulling them away from danger when we can, and hurting when they hurt.  We’re still getting hit in the shin so to speak at times.  And we’re thinking we wouldn’t trade it for anything, hurts and all.  The older my boys get, the more I understand the mothers who will never give up.  The more I understand that their age has nothing to do with it.  I think that is part of God’s plan too.  He didn’t tell us to honor our parents when we’re young, but our whole lives.  A parents love is the closest thing we have here on earth to His love.  It never ends.

So how long to raise a boy?  I don’t think I’ll ever be done to find out.

Duplicity

We all do it to some extent…. shield portions of our lives from people, hide our feelings so we can continue on without dealing with them, compartmentalizing portions of ourselves.  It makes you wonder, if you look closely, if anyone truly knows all of who we are.  I do it a lot.  This blog is making that collapse to some extent, and though it was a conscious decision, it’s still tough to become so open and honest. 

In the days after Austin was first gone, though the world felt off balance, I still had a job to go to, a child to take care of, roles at church to fill, and a home to maintain.  I shared what was going on with those closest, but really believed we’d find him soon and didn’t want to embarrass him, or concern people more than ‘necessary’ if possible.  So I told those I had to tell, and kept most of it inside.  We started catching some media breaks and soon word was out, once our faces and his face was on the news asking for help.  But yet I downplayed it, and tried not to ask friends for help, though many stepped forward regardless.  But yet I continued to say “I’m fine” and go on about my days.  I never even took a day off from work.  My mom was also trying to work remotely, displaced from her home to be near where Austin last was.  I would come home in the evenings and she would finish whatever project she was on (often work, often search related things) and we’d start putting out fliers, drive through areas Austin frequented, or even drive to nearby towns of possible sightings.  The whole time, my husband was also working and picking up the slack with our son and home. 

As there have been less and less things we could do on a daily basis to search for Austin, my mention of him has been less and less.  What do I say?  I don’t exactly feel like I should tell random people I meet, or even people who become friends about this part of our life.  I don’t want to be pitied, I don’t want to have to share my feelings, and I most certainly would never risk someone seeing me cry. 

But wait…. isn’t that what I wish Austin would have done?  I wish he had told us, been willing to open himself up to sharing what was going on in his life.  His fears, his pains, his whole life, not just the portions that sounded nice and he thought we wanted to hear. 

I’ll probably never be the person who cries in public, or gets past the habit of answering “great” to the polite questions always asked about how we’re doing.  But I do want to be the person who can open up and share her thoughts and feelings here, getting one step closer to being real.  That’s what God challenges us, to live life together in community, to be real with each other.  I’m thankful for a relatively small group of people that I have been real with, people who sometimes push me there even when I don’t want to. 

I wish Austin had felt like he had that.