“Hey, Bear,” I whisper softly, rubbing his back, “Time to get up, buddy.” (I feel like one of those moms on the P & G Olympics commercials.)
He sighs deeply and opens one eye, “That feels good.” he mumbles as I massage his shoulders and work out a few kinks in his muscles.
“You ready for another day of gymnastics?”
His grin does me in, “Mmmm hmmmm,” he nods, afraid to move because then I’ll stop rubbing his sore muscles.
He has been at a gymnastics camp all week. Nine to four-thirty. Every day.
He loves it; in fact, he told me he doesn’t want to play football this fall. He wants to keep taking gymnastics classes instead.
Whenever I arrive to pick him up, he is smiling and flipping and jumping and doing sit-ups and walking across the balance beam like a champ. His little compact body is getting stronger, and every morning he shows off his muscles to me, and his dimpled grin makes me all marshmallowy inside (is marshmallowy even a word?).
“He has no fear,” his instructor told me yesterday, “He just tries everything, falls and gets back up again. His talent for this is natural. He listens well and does exactly what we say, and he’s good. He’s really good.”
He has turned our den into a workout room where he practices tripods and headstands and cartwheels and bridges.
I know I write often about the sadness of my children growing up, but this… this is the beauty of them growing up. They are learning who they are and where they are gifted. They are trying new things, learning to fail and succeed. They are choosing where they want to go and what they want to do.
And when I watch Bear jump, point his toes and touch them with outstretched arms in mid-air with amazing form (yes, I know I’m a prejudiced mom) for only three days’ practice, my heart wants to burst with pride.
Yes, my heart is sad each morning as he rides off with his daddy. There is a lump in my throat as I watch his little hand signing, “I love you,” out the window until I can see him no more, but… (I love the word, but; because, so often when I write it, I know the next sentence will hold joy.)
But he is happy.
He is learning valuable lessons.
He is growing into who he will become.
He is a little boy doing what he loves to do in a way that I believe makes God smile.
And while it is my job to instill in him love and truth, while I train him in life and work to create a sense of safety for him here, while we work hard to not allow extra-curricular activities rule his life or our home, while we work to woo his heart to Jesus, to put family first and teach balance in all things, we also let go and let him learn and grow and be who he is, who God created him to be.
Whether he pursues gymnastics beyond this week, or whether he plays football, or whether he becomes an artist (another gift he has), or whether he turns out to be a Lego Set Designer and a Pastor (his former choices for future jobs), or whether he has his own cooking show on the Food Network with all foods he’s cultivated in his yard (his current job choice for the future)… whatever he does, he will be decidedly BEAR.
And that fills this mama’s heart with joy, peace and contentment–gifts from our Father Who is the source of all those things.
Thank you, Lord, for sock feet jumping on mats, for strong muscles and dimpled grins. Thank you for yummy foods and future dreams. Thank you for days of growth and learning. Thank You that no matter who he becomes, he isn’t afraid to be who he is. Thank you for this gift. Thank you for my Bear.
(I don’t have any gymnastics pics yet, so his “Food Network” shot of supper he made will have to suffice. Yes, he made deviled eggs. Yes, he is shirtless under his dad’s apron. Oh, how I love that boy!)
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