On Sons and Monarchs

 I knew it would happen, but not this fast, not this abruptly.  The metamorphosis from boy to man rocks a mother’s world.  I no longer find childhood remnants of our walks to the pond and back in the pockets of his jeans.  These days all I find are tattered gas receipts and scribbled notes for side jobs—swatches of manhood.

I remember years ago when my son’s feet dangled from the, too, tall kitchen chair, his untied shoe laces drooped to the floor— this image of boyhood was fleeting.  Knowing even back then, seventeen short years ago, as a young, inexperienced mom that I needed to sear that image into my memory bank of his boyhood because one day he would be taller than me and our talk of fish and frogs would change to jobs, colleges, and cars. I carefully captured every fragment of childhood I could knowing that I would need those recollections of his boyhood to cling to when the pulling away began.

 A son’s gradual, yet, inevitable pulling away from boyhood to embrace the calling of manhood leaves a bittersweet singe on a mother’s heart. 

Often the pulling away doesn’t happen neatly; it can get ugly and messy.  Words can sting a mother’s  heart like torrents of icy rain on exposed cheeks.  Those harsh moments, I’ve learned, are opportunities for grace.

I, reluctantly, release the boy to become the man he was created to be.  Picture mom not digging but heals entrenched in the soil clinging to his shirt-tail kind of reluctance.
It’s monarch season in our part of the world. We visited a friend yesterday who maintains an exquisite, lush habitat for Monarchs.  After romping through Tithonia and Tropical milkweed, we gently captured a trio of caterpillars to hatch. We toted them home in the cage bought for Hermit crabs that didn’t quite, well, how shall I say this delicately, adapt to their new environment.  We watch these relentless feast-ers bulge themselves with milkweed.  No matter how many books we read about the habits of these soon to be winged creatures, to observe the process validates the theory that we are created for a specific, Higher purpose.

Before migrating into the world, a son, like a Monarch, must undergo a metamorphosis from boy to man so that he can fulfill God’s intended purpose for his life. When the time comes for that son of yours to morph from boy to man, mothers remember that we are participating in a glorious,  partnership with God. I am being painfully honest, loving sons only to let them go— hurts.  A glimpse of this raising up and releasing is quietly tucked between the pages of I Samuel, and I pray that I am at least half as gallant and obedient as Hannah when she presents Eli to serve the Lord.

  “If we hold tightly to anything given to us, unwilling to allow it to be used as the Giver means it to be used we stunt the growth of the soul. What God gives us is not necessarily “ours” but only ours to offer back to him, ours to relinquish, ours to lose, ours to let go of, if we want to be our true selves.

 “If God gave it to me,” we say, “its mine. I can do what I want with it.” No. The truth is that it is ours to thank Him for and ours to offer back to Him, ours to relinquish, ours to lose, ours to let go of – if we want to find our true selves, if we want real life, if our hearts are set on glory.”  Elisabeth Elliot

As I watch these Monarchs in captivity change, my anticipation heightens with every new phase, same goes for the changes I see in my son.  When the Monarch chrysalis thins enough to reveal the caterpillar to butterfly, a level of relief sets in, I know that the transformation is just about complete.

My son’s transformation from boy to man isn’t complete yet, but not too far away.

We have time to finish our assignment: to raise a Godly protector (physical and spiritual) and provider (physical and spiritual). 

Soon enough, our Monarchs will hatch and there will be a waiting phase as the wings harden and strengthen for the inevitable take off…the migration.  Like Monarchs, sending my son into the world too soon, expecting him to fly before he is equipped to do so, makes him vulnerable and prone to sinking rather than soaring.

I know my son would much rather be compared to a fierce Bengal tiger rather than a delicate Monarch, but that’s the tricky part of raising sons, helping them balance tenacity and toughness while preserving and maintaining a tenderness that wraps like tendrils around his heart.  It’s the lionhearted and lamb-like combination that makes a Godly man.

It’s been almost a week since our Monarch caterpillars transformed into a jade green chrysalis.   Inside the casing dramatic changes occur.  Within a few days, there will be visible signs of the new creature as the outline of the ebony and orange wings press against the transparent protective shell.  Home has changed.

Mothers of daughters, as you pray for the future mate of your girl, pray that she desires a man with a Godly vision; a man who not only knows his purpose in this world but pursues it.

During the boy to man metamorphosis remember:

  • Maturity (spiritual, emotional) dictates readiness not a specific age. It is the wise hunter-warrior who reaches into his quiver and pulls out an arrow with perfect fletchings and a razor sharp tip. He releases that arrow confident that it will strike the target.  If the arrow is not battle ready, the arrow remains in the quiver.  The same goes for sons, begin the tender-warrior training as a shoe lace dangling toddler so that when the pulling away begins, you are confident he will become the lionhearted, lamb-like man you prayed for. 
  • Letting Go Does NOT Mean Giving Up.   When times get tough and the angst of becoming a man erupts and causes conflict, find a quiet corner to cry and when the last tear falls, brush yourself off, and get back to being mom. He needs you.
  • Prayer is Your Most Valuable Tool.   You talk to your son but the pulling away has created a crevice between mother and son.  Don’t press the panic button.  “Mature Christians are keenly aware that they can’t raise their kids. It’s a no-brainer. Even if they are perfect parents, they still can’t get inside their kid’s hearts. THAT’S WHY STRONG CHRISTIANS PRAY MORE.” Paul Miller.  Once he finds his footing, the crevice closes to a sliver.