My sweet, sweet happy boy. Oh how I love you, and I want to keep life simple and pure for you forever. As I watch you begin life’s rites of passages… crawling, talking, walking, soon kindergarten and eventually adolescence, and all the peer pressure that surrounds it, I realize it’s a flawed life. The reality is life isn’t sugar coated, it’s imperfect and the choices I make today as your mom will help mold the choices you make as you grow older. Oh the pressure, how did I go from what I thought would be cool mom to helicopter mom?
This scary reality hit me when I was 28 years old, the day after your dad and I were married, I said goodbye to my little brother, your uncle Noah. One of the happiest moments in my life turned into one of the scariest as your grandma drove uncle Noah to prison to serve his 10-year sentence for running a multi-state drug conspiracy.
On our first visit to see Noah, you giggled. I cried. You were happy. I was shaking. I couldn’t even sign my name. Growing up, visiting prison will be your normal. Never would have I dreamed of that situation for my babies. All because of choices.
As a parent I’m always worrying. I want to do everything in my power to protect my babies. I want to hide you from this broken world, from every bad person and thing. Watching your uncle go through what he did, I reflect constantly on what I could have done differently and wonder how can I stop you from going down that same path?
While I want to protect you forever, the truth is I can’t and it’s not my job. All I can do is offer you a healthy environment, lead by example and trust you will do what is best. But, I’m not an idiot… experimenting is the curiosity of adolescence. It’s this very reality that terrifies me, the idea of you smoking a cigarette. What if you like it? What if it gives you a buzz you’ve been looking for, what if the love that surrounds you isn’t enough? I will lose my mind, I will be totally uncool and will have to remind myself that locking you in a basement and hiding you from this world isn’t a solution.
In reality, all we can do when tragedy strikes is accept the consequences as your uncle Noah is doing and learn from these mistakes. We have a long road ahead, in which you’ll learn as you grow older, to support your uncle, but we’re taking each day as we best know how. When visiting your uncle Noah, all we have is time. Time to talk, time to listen and time to really get to know one another a lot more. Through these times I’ve realized how your uncle got to this place and how he will get back into the routines of everyday society, knowing he will be ok all because he has a giant support system within the love of his family. I’ve learned a lot and because of what I’ve learned through this experience I will promise to you my baby if you touch that cigarette…
It’s a Slow Fade.
Nothing happens overnight. It’s a slow fade. I am a firm believer we are who we are by the people who we surround ourselves with and the choices that we make. Your uncle didn’t go to prison because of a choice he made yesterday. He went to prison because of the choices he made over a number of years. From hanging out with the wrong crowd to smoking that cigarette to smoking pot to then selling hard drugs.
The fade begins with a thought. At some point you are going to think about smoking or hanging with that crowd. You might be mad at me or your girlfriend or boyfriend. You might be bored. You might be curious or you may just be feeling a little rebellious. I just pray if you get that moment of knowing that it’s not right, you think of how much it will hurt me. You think of your uncle Noah and you don’t give in to the temptation.
There is no question that drugs are bad. It’s simply black and white and your choice to make. People, possibly your “friends,” may try to rationalize with you that experimenting with drugs is OK because of maybe the high they felt or whatever way they try to justify it. Just know that black and white for them turned to grey because nobody wakes up one day and says, “YES! Today is the day I turn into an addict.” It’s a slow fade, my love, so I’m sorry for when the possible day comes when you want to touch that cigarette, I cry. I might even ball my eyes out. And you will probably then officially think I am losing my mind, I might even think that. But when that thought is acted on, it becomes a conscious choice. That temptation becomes sin and you give yourself away. It’s a slow fade when you first say yes to giving yourself away. And although it’s a slow fade, life can change FAST. And it can rock your world and those you love the most.
I love you so much, Greyson. And I have grown to love your uncle Noah even more through this entire process of watching him fade and come back to us. I didn’t think my heart could love any more, and in the last few years when I reflect, the most important thing I have learned is to love freaking hard. Love always wins. Your uncle Noah is loved by so many. Love shapes your character.
Your grandpa died very suddenly when I was in my early 20’s. One moment I will never forget as we walked out of your grandpa’s hospital room after having said our last goodbye’s is looking over at the doctor with his head in his hands, in disbelief because he had lost such a young patient. Your uncle Noah walked over to the doctor, patted him on the back, shook his hand and said, “Thank you.”
I never once thought to thank someone who didn’t save your grandpa from dying. But your uncle Noah did. This is just one example of the many wonderful characteristics your uncle has demonstrated over the years. And I believe he has so much love to give because he was surrounded by so much love. He’s even changing inmates’ lives in prison with his amazing soul.
I’m not going to be able to stop you from making the choices that you are going to make, but I’m going to do my best to help shape your character. And I pray that you show that love you receive to every person you meet in your life.
God puts every single person in our lives for a reason. Even that stranger you meet in passing that smiles at you and maybe makes you smile for the rest of the day. If your heart ever hurts a little because of something or someone, do something about it. Be that person who makes the world a brighter place, Greyson.
The choices you make and the people you hang out with are what creates your life, your destiny. So all I can do is make sure that you know that you are loved. I promise that you will never not get a strong hug from your momma every single time you see me and no matter what choices you make in life you are going to know that you are loved. I might not bail you out of jail, but I’ll be right there by your side no matter what.
I promise I will confront you. If I smell that cigarette on you, I will say something. If I find that condom, I will say something. If I think you’re acting funny, sleeping too much, losing too much weight, eating too many Cheetos, I will say something. You will be uncomfortable, I will probably be uncomfortable. I won’t yell, I won’t hide (I’m sorry, I might cry). But I will look you in the eyes and I will say something.
And then I will listen. I have gotten to know your uncle more in the last few years than probably in the 28 prior. Because all you can do in prison is sit, talk and listen. I spent years mad, ignoring and telling your uncle how stupid he was. But I don’t think I ever really confronted and just listened. So after I confront you, I will listen to you. We will talk and your daddy and I will listen. Being able to talk to your uncle Noah and listen has given me so much comfort and understanding. Listening shows you care. There is no need to fill silence with words unless there is a real purpose. And I’m going to listen to what’s happening with you and be there by your side to help make a change. We’re a team. You, me and your daddy. You can tell us anything. And if you want us to do something, we will. But if you want us to just listen and be there, we can do that too.
I love you Greyson. Forever and ever. And remember, if you ever touch that cigarette, your momma’s watching….haha!