Diane Nelson asked me: "How does your son inspire you to be ..."
I like that she left the question open ended. On first impulse I was going to write about how my son has inspired me to a better person and I was going to talk about all the things that you might expect me to say as a mom, the lessons I've learned along the way.
Here's how I am going to fill in the blank and address your question, Diane, "How does your son inspire you to be fearless?"
16 years ago today, at 6:08pm, I gave birth to my 7lb 8oz son, John Clark. He's named after my father and my favorite movie character, Clark W. Griswold. Johnny arrived a week early; my water broke the morning after a night of dancing at Polishfest in Milwaukee. My Pitocin induced labor lasted a grand total of 60 minutes, start to finish. I had no time or tolerance for panting exercises. No epidural. No drugs (I swear I would have taken crack cocaine had it been offered). Turns out my "birth plan" was complete bullshit and panic set in as soon I understood I would be doing this alone. But I was not alone, Johnny and I did this together and this was my first lesson in surrendering the fear I would need to let go of in order to parent him.
John's dad and I divorced when John was 7. I believed then and I am convinced now, that a child is better off to come from a broken home than to live in one. My home, his home, was broken beyond repair. John's dad moved to another state when John was 8 years old. Heartbreaking really doesn't cover it.
There have been the usual and necessary childhood disappointments, mistakes, missed opportunities, rejections, fears and failures, all on point, all on cue. My son has risen above it all, with grace. I never did and still do not handle fear and failure as well as he does. And it's not only one of the things that I am most proud of him for, but it's also one of the reasons I know he will be able to do anything he sets his mind to. John does not let fear stand in his way. Ever. He expresses it and then he moves past it. When he fails, he does not let it stop him from getting what he wants. He tries again. He gives up only when he decides it is no longer something that is important to him. He quits on his terms.
My son is a 4.0 honor student, headed into his Junior year of high school. He let me know last month that he registered for AP Biology, AP Psychology, Physics and Pre-Calc becasue he "thinks he can do it". I love that about him. He has the same friends he's had since Kindergarten. He is passionate about Lacrosse, the guitar, biology and video games that his mother does not approve of. He is loyal to a fault. He has razor sharp wit and common sense that defies logic. And my God, that boy is fearless.
There are plenty of real things to be afraid of in this world and I know this, and John knows this. But we must not allow irrational fear to drive the bus. John inspires me to be fearless because fear really is just an attitude.
Happy 16th birthday, Johnny. You got this. I love you, Momma