Eight weeks since our oldest moved in. I'll be honest, the honeymoon is over.
But don't you worry...
I remember my own honeymoon, the way we spent those early days trying to figure each other out, pretending everything made sense when it didn't, treading lightly, mistaking a strange, tripped-upon anxiety as bliss.
It was fun and all, but it wasn't real.
This, right here, is when things get real.
I cannot begin to encapsulate what's happening here. I wish I could.
All I know is, it's the worst kind of hard and the best kind of easy.
We've had arguments, slamming doors, curse words, dead eyes.
We've had hugs for no reason, his warm cheek pressed against our own.
We've had apologies, hurt feelings (his and mine - Dad appears to be immune), misunderstandings, grumblings spent and kept.
And in between it all, we eat Chinese take-out and bad grilled cheese sandwiches. We fold laundry. Braid hair. He goes to work. Now and then, we dance a little.
We're learning our son right now, learning the roads we've never had reason to travel.
And all we keep finding is more reason to love him.
So when he talks to me in the evenings, before heading down to his cave, I find myself looking at him like he's Calvin. He's my little dude, growing up before my eyes, and I want to freeze-frame him. I want to cheer him on and call him nonsense nicknames.
I know that every minute of service to our child, every act of love, every opportunity to offer grace, every difficult truth requires that I bend low. This isn't my natural or preferred stature, but here I see no other way.
Some nights, I hide out in my bedroom. I tell myself I wasn't cut from this cloth. I'm not getting what I need right now.
Some days, I fight the urge to pick up every last cigarette butt from the drive and carry them inside, a paper-and-ash monument of my martyrdom, subtlety be danged.
Some days, judgment and selfishness win.
Some days, I tell myself I'm well within my right.
I catch myself wanting to change him into us. I want to make him feel the ways he's wrong. I want to speed up his growth. I want to make him middle class, quieter, less opinionated, less picky, a believer from the womb.
But I hear God yakking in my ear and I am Robert. I'm loved with unflinching fierceness, chosen for keeps, not in spite of my brokenness, but because of it. His grace is sufficient for my stupidity and my drama.
Robert is getting a first-row seat to the imperfections of his mom and dad. He's finding out quickly that they don't know so much after all, and sometimes, they're just wrong. Sometimes they're jerks.
So every single day, every dark night, we make concessions. I wash grapes for his lunch because I think he needs fruit and he texts me "thank u mom" with extra emoticons. He tells us we're awesome "in every way" and we return the favor while we all bask in the "if only" and smile because it's at least partly true.
I'm the kid with the fish and the loaves - It can't possibly be enough, Jesus, but take it anyway.
I'm the woman in the crowd, receiving everything she needs, unaware that what just happened was a miracle.
I pray different kinds of prayers now, more desperate, more specific.
I dream about and dread the day he's on his own.
(He does the same.)
This is family, the kind formed from dust into a see-it, hug-it thing of beauty.
We're a mom, a dad, a fascinating girl and three zany boys. And so much more.
We're a wonder, that's what I know. We're the luckiest people in town.