A little over a year ago we went to a birthday party for a friend’s son who was turning 13. The people invited were close friends and family that had been influential in this boys life over the years. During the party we took some time to share memories and thoughts about him and his becoming a young man, a teenager. It was incredibly touching and special and sparked an idea that has been brewing ever since.
What if all of those words that were shared by the important people in his life were compiled with images into a beautiful book. Something that could be held and read and re-read over time. So now, over a year later, I find myself on the journey of my oldest transitioning from a boy to a teenager turning 13. It’s an emotional time for so many reasons. Watching my baby grow up, becoming a young man, hormones raging at times and of course the eye roll or giant “sigh” when I’ve said something incredibly stupid…like “can I help you with that?”.
Remembering my idea, I asked all of the people who have been important role models, his youth pastor that recently moved away, his nanny/babysitter, family and friends to contribute something they might offer as encouragement or advice as Mason enters this new phase of life. Almost everyone I reached out to send something back. I was overwhelmed both with the willingness of others to participate and their thoughtful words. This is truly something to be treasured forever.
I found myself wanting to include a page for each of his grandparents that have passed. My sister sent the perfect words that my mother would have shared from one of my mother’s favorite books, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. “To fly as fast as thought to anywhere that is, you must begin by knowing that you have already arrived.” Matt found a Bible verse to be included from his father from Proverbs, his dad’s favorite section. “Grandchildren are a crown of the aged, and parents are the pride of their children”. Proverb 17:6. And I found a Bible verse “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. –Romans 12:2 and a quote from Buddha…”To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.” to be included on a page from my father.
There are numerous other entries that have sage advice and good humor…too much to share in this post. 37 entries actually, including one’s from Matt and I and his brother. This book is an amazing compilation that I hope can bring a feeling of safety to Mason in times of doubt. I wrote to him at the front of the book that as he walks this unfamiliar path, he should know that it is well-worn and marked by all of the people who have gone on this journey before him. That this book can serve as a guide when he feels lost or confused and that it can point him in the right direction. That the words in the pages were written with love to help him find his way on this adventure called life.
He’s been reading it slowly, page by page as he goes to sleep at night. It was funny, the first night he opened it on his birthday, he read the entries from Matt and I and Miles and then flipped through the rest of the book, looking at who had contributed and all of the photographs. When he got to the end, he closed the book and said that he needed to go to bed…right then. He crawled out of our bed and into his own and promptly fell asleep. It was almost like it was emotional overload. But he’s a deep child, always has been. These words inside this book are not lost on him. I know that over time he’ll continue to read and re-read the words of advice and guidance and love.
From the deepest part of my heart I thank everyone who was a part of this gift for Mason. I read everyone’s words and am so touched by your love for my son. Brings tears to my eyes. 37 entries and close to 400 images later, an incredible book was created that is and will be well-loved!
I do know however that I’m less than three years away from having to do this again or at least a version of this for Miles! He said he knows his is coming so if I’m smart I’ll start putting it together now!
Here are some photographs of the book. The front and back cover and a couple of inside pages to give you an idea of how it turned out.