I took this photo the other evening of my firstborn on the beach. Looking at it this morning I felt tears on my cheeks without even realising they had started in my eyes. It only took a moment to know why. This photo represents everything I have been thinking about recently. It feels like he is on the cusp of so much, a growing sense of independence, exposure to unlimited information, time without adults, negotiating social etiquettes and pecking orders, unfamiliar feelings and changes to his body, transitioning to a man whilst still a child. And here he is walking away, into a wide open space, telling me without words that some of this he needs to figure out without me.
I want so much to make it all okay for him, to keep him safe and thriving in his soul but I am aware he is telling me less than he used to. And so I tell him things instead. I tell him I am here for him no matter what. I hold a space for him when he does talk to me and I remind him that I love him every single day.
But I know there are things going on for him that I will never truly understand. I read about it and I’ve studied it and I coach about it but I have never been a boy nor a man and so I will never truly feel the impact that masculinities has and how it shapes our men. But I know that it’s present, I feel it in their lives daily. It surrounds us always and I can’t change that. But what I can do is let him know that it is okay for him to feel scared and sad and vulnerable, that these things aren’t assigned to gender but are part of what makes us human, and to deny them, denies us of our whole self.
Since becoming a coach I have realised that to enable someone to grow, and to offer unconditional support and watch them flourish in front of your eyes, you don’t need to fully understand what it is they are feeling. I see it in the men that I work with. Giving them a space to be vulnerable, to identify what is holding them back from being their whole self and listening as they find the answers is enough. As one client shared, knowing I wouldn’t fully understand what it is he was exploring, gave him a space to explore it further without any feeling of judgement.
And so I end this post feeling lighter for having written it and reassured as a mother that my boys will find their way, with unconditional love and support and space to flourish, anything is possible.
Have a good day.