He came down the stairs and time stopped. I knew he’d look great. At six feet tall without an ounce of fat on him it doesn’t take much. Earlier in the year his team captain got him used to wearing a shirt and tie by insisting the team dress for success on match days. This made for a few crazy mornings as we rushed ineptly to tie a half-Windsor but as tennis season progressed, so did his skill and self-assurance. It was practice that paid off two months later when everyone got teary eyed at the sight of Luke in a suit. He insisted, wanting to do his friend proud by looking his absolute best when he spoke at his funeral.
I struggled with every maternal emotion possible, one boy gone while another was finding his way into manhood. It was bittersweet. My heart ached for all that was lost and yet rejoiced at what was gained for Luke in that moment. Clothes don’t make a man, experience does and Luke wore that suit, it didn’t wear him. With his shoulders squared and a steady gaze he spoke with great pride about his friend touching every heart with his sincerity. For Mike it was the perfect tribute and for Luke another confidence builder. If you can do that when you’re heart is breaking then something like asking a girl out for the first time, even just as friends, is definitely possible.
As adults this isn’t a comparison we’re likely to draw but in the mind of a teenage boy, taking a girl to the prom for the first time is HUGE. For some the thought is so intimidating it’s not possible. Even though going as friends takes some of the pressure off it’s still a leap of faith socially. Fear of being embarrassed is a fate worse than death to some kids. I don’t like to use such strong words but we all know it’s true.
Back in my day, key social events like the prom were a big deal but we were fortunate not to have reality television then, so the expectations were lower. You weren’t competing with celebutants. Nobody worried about, “Keeping Up with the Kardashian’s”. Paris Hilton was a hotel in France. It was a special occasion just to wear a long dress. We didn’t have Miracle Bras so low-cut was no-cut and that was fine.
Times have changed though, and the social stakes are higher. Girls go to prom fashion shows months in advance to scope out the Red Carpet gowns they’ll be wearing, some of which cost a small fortune. What’s worn underneath to hold it all up is another matter entirely, and I won’t go there because it’s crazy. I have to walk by the teen section at Victoria’s Secret quickly so I don’t faint at the thought.
Given this environment a guy’s got to look sharp too, and he has to know how to handle himself next to a young lady wearing a gown. Simple shirt and tie etiquette won’t cut it. It’s a tall order for a young man even if he’s got the height for it. This is why when Luke emerged from his room looking every bit the gentleman, it took my breath away. How had this happened?
Of course I know how the tux got ordered, the flowers chosen, and the restaurant selected but when did all those subtle changes start taking place that got him to this point? When did the boy who could barely tie his shoes become a young man taking a young lady to a dance?
I don’t know for certain but I have a theory. I think it came inch by inch as he grew past my five foot seven frame. Those inches he’s got on me now, represent his self-esteem. That all important thing you can’t touch, yet it affects how you feel. You can’t see it, but it’s there when you look in the mirror. You can’t hear it, but it’s there every time you speak. These intangibles are what have developed in Luke as his gaze grew beyond my horizon. When a boy can finally put his arm around his Mom and look down on her it’s a sweet moment for them both. To see his growing self-confidence help him live up to his potential is a gift more precious than anything he could ever buy me for Mother’s Day. It’s the reward you work toward every day as a mother.
The opinion we have of ourselves affects everything we do – every decision, every conversation, every action. A healthy self-worth requires seeing ourselves as capable. God tells us we are and our families tell us we are, but every day the gods of this world tell us we aren’t. They do so knowing that if our self-worth is eroded enough, we won’t live up to who God created us to be.
I have always said that as a mother my greatest hope for my boys was that they would grow up to be Godly and capable – capable of being who God wants them to be. For Luke, I don’t think that’s a public speaker, dancer, or dashing Secret Agent. However to hold his own in a crowd, go to a dance, and dress the part is accomplishment enough! With the confidence to do those things college, a job, and when the time is right a girlfriend are all within reach. For any boy this is a victory, but for a boy doctor’s expected wouldn’t it’s a triumph – one that I can’t help but celebrate this Mother’s Day.
“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)