More words for my son, a warrior for Good

My son read my last post and said that’s very nice, Mom, but it’s all about you!  I thought you were going to write something nice about me, or give me some words of wisdom.

As usual, he was right.

I had actually sat down to write about him, but ended up getting so caught up in the story of his birth that I ran with that instead.

Also, the idea of offering him “words of wisdom” is intimidating.  Most of the time I am just trying to ask the right questions…I am wise enough to know I don’t have the answers.

But let me not shy from the challenge.

What do I wish for my son as he steps out into his third decade of life and enters adulthood?  What do I have to offer him for the journey?

It makes me sad to think about how the actions and inactions of previous generations, my own included, have led to the current threshold upon which he stands, looking out at his future.

My son often talks about looking forward to raising his own children, trying to be the best father he can possibly be.

As I look into the future and try to imagine my grandchildren, I am saddened by all the pressures that they will face, due to global heating, overpopulation and the contamination of the environment.

Will my grandchildren know what it’s like to sit under a blooming apple tree filled with merrily buzzing bees on a perfect May morning?

Will they be able to lie in the tall grass of June without fear of a plague of disease-bearing ticks?

Will they have the pleasure of watching a noble blue heron stalking the riverbank, reaching down with a merciless snap to grab a frog from under a lilypad?

My son wants to be a marine biologist, and has already spent quite a bit of time and energy pursuing that goal out on the water and in the lab.  But every day brings fresh reports of how damaged our oceans are due to overfishing, toxic contamination and ever-acidifying water.

The upcoming corps of marine biologists will have the grim task of monitoring inevitable species decline and habitat degradation, and perhaps suggesting ways to remediate and hold off the destruction.  Rather than celebrating life, they’ll be bearing witness to death.

In my most pessimistic moments, I fear that the havoc of climate change will lead to knock-out storms, epidemics and food shortages that will make huge portions of our planet dismal versions of post-earthquake Haiti.

How can I bear to watch my son stepping out into this apocalyptic landscape, so strong and healthy, so full of energy and hope, so motivated to live his life with high spirits and good grace?

I know there have been many moments in human history when mothers have looked out at the future with similar trepidation.

We simply have to stand back and let them go, trying not to encumber them with our fears, or even with our hopes.

My son’s life is his own to live.  I know that as we cross this Year 20 milestone together, he will begin to pull out ahead of me, leaping boldly and fearlessly into the future.

I hope that during these years when I’ve been nurturing him, I’ve given him some good tools for the journey; some rich memories, and sound habits of body and mind.

The world is waiting for you, my son, and she needs you to stand up and be the warrior for good you were born to be.



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  1. Thanks mom, I love you!

  2. Martin Lack

     /  April 2, 2012

    I would like to congratulate your son for having the emotional maturity and, in our current circumstances, the indefatigable optimism to look forward to fatherhood. Even when it eventually caught up with me – just into my fourth decade – I was a very reluctant father and saw children as a further restriction on my freedom…

    Unfortunately, it has taken the breakdown of my marriage for me to appreciate that there is little else in life that is more important than nurturing children. I guess this is why I get so angry at the collective failure of our generation to be good stewards of what we inherited from our forebears; and so fearful of what my children’s generation will say when they write-up our history…

    Fortunately, even with my children now 14 and 16 years old respectively, being a grandparent seems – as yet – a very distant prospect…

  3. I love this article and congratulations to your son. I was very sad while I was reading this article because I was thinking about my country(Bhutan) and its development.
    I loved traveling from my hometown to the capital, Thimphu. My mom would make pack lunch for us, we would all stop near the waterfall under the shades of tall tress. Our government is making three or four huge tunnels for hydro electricity. Now I no longer see any green trees, waterfall is almost manmade and the green grass that usually used to grow on both the sides of the road is all muddy. There are so many huge vehicles carrying things for the construction and I see people everywhere. I am still sad that I won’t be able to relive and re-experience my childhood days again.


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