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The Beat of His Own Drum

The greatest gift I can give him is my unremitting and unconditional love and acceptanceMy son, Graham, marches to the beat of his own drum. Quite literally, he actually plays the drums. He likes to read, and he loves math and Presidential trivia with a passion I can’t fathom. He’s cerebral and sensitive, with tears, hurt feelings, and sweet thoughts often bubbling to the surface.

Currently, he wants to be a rainforest scientist when he grows up, and he really wants to learn to play the trumpet. He’s also very funny, and despite an overabundance of fart jokes, his sense of humor often leaves me in stitches and seems beyond his 8 years.

When I was pregnant with him, I imagined being a soccer mom, sitting in the bleachers cheering my son on in his imagemany sporting triumphs. Turns out, that was not to be. Graham has many loves and interests (music, Pokeman cards, legos, Minecraft), but sports is not one of them.

To be honest, it’s challenging to have a boy who does not play sports, for him and for me. Sports is a way for boys (and men) to connect and bond. It’s also a means of getting exercise and fresh air. I worry he’s going to miss out on the life lessons and relationships that come from being on a team and playing sports. I worry he’s going to feel left out.

And yes, I had to give up my fantasy of sitting in the bleachers cheering my boy on. (Although now I have a kick-ass sporty girl)(Thank you, God, for that little twist).

We tried forcing him to play sports, but he hated it. He gritted his teeth and did it, but it was clearly not his thing. We still tell tales of four-year-old Graham “playing” football, mostly in a pile of frustrated tears on the sidelines.

Ouch, there it is. The Mom Guilt.

I asked him recently if he wanted to go for a run with me, and he heaved a great sigh and gave me an eyeroll, “Mom, you’re forcing YOUR things on me. I’m 8 and I’m old enough to decide some things on my own.”

Kersplat. That hit me right between the eyes. His first little stab of independence. He’s right. He’s his own person, and I have to let him be who he is called to be. Of course, I am here to guide him and steer him in the right direction if he gets off course, but I have to let go and have faith that he is going to be okay.

It’s just like letting go of the bicycle right after the training wheels come off. There he goes, off on his own adventure, exploring his own interests and paths.

I’m working on that, letting go and having faith. I still feel so connected to him, like I experience the ups and downs of life right alongside him. I have to let go of that too, little by little, and it’s so hard. It’s his life, not mine.

Of course, he will face challenges, like we all do, and I feel sure that his uniqueness will be called into question. My fervent hope is that the world does not squish his gentle and unique spirit. Or if it does, I hope he eventually finds the strength to ignore the squishers and embrace the amazing, smart, and interesting person that he is.

The greatest gift I can give him is my unremitting and unconditional love and acceptance. (He’s got it in spades, by the way). As I begin the slow and reluctant process of letting him go, I will give him the space to spread his wings and embrace who he is, in all his unique and God-given glory.

I want him to hold his head high and march to the beat of his own drum with joy and gusto. I’ll just be over here in the bleachers, cheering him on, letting go, and having faith.

~Emily

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