The Men In My Life

I was a pink wearing, barbie playing, ponytail swishing girlie girl. Every stereotype related to my gender was easily adopted without question. Nothing was forced upon me, I simply followed what came naturally. Relationships with the fairer sex have never been a challenge. I enjoy strong bonds with my mom, two sisters, and a handful of close girlfriends. Without question I have benefited from the unconditional love offered up by these magnificent women, but it is the the men in my world that have forced me far outside my comfort zone.

My earliest memories are of my Dad wearing a sweatsuit and yelling at some guys running up and down a court. Athleticism should have been in my DNA, but honestly I never quite understood what all the fuss was about. As the years passed, I grew resentful of the sport that robbed me of time with my father. The more success that came to Coach V, the less we saw our Dad. We all thought there would be time for family after the final buzzer, but in a cruel twist of fate he would be forced to leave us at the age of 47. There are no words to fully capture the impact that my Dad had on me. He taught me how to dream, live with passion, appreciate poetry, motivate others, and face cancer with courage. I will never fully understand some of the choices that he made, but I will forever appreciate the multitude of gifts that he bestowed upon me.

My first boyfriend would remain by my side for over 25 years. Because of him, I would become a wife and mother. I would never have experienced many of my greatest joys without him. Sadly, the ending of our love story read more like a tragedy. As I sift through the ruins, I take ownership of the many ways in which I failed. Learning to embrace forgiveness is the precious lesson born from our disaster. Nothing can be gained from bitterness and regret, and so I am forced to trust that God can bring beauty from these ashes.

Last but certainly not least, are the young men that call me Mom. These two have pushed me to my absolute limit. There have been days when I am doubtful I have the fortitude to continue, and I desperately need a timeout from parenting. After 19 years of mothering, I now fully comprehend that true transformation cannot occur without sacrifice. Through my efforts to give them what they needed to thrive, I uncovered the deeper truths that brought meaning to my existence. Jake has modeled how to truly love yourself. When he sings, I escape the bonds of reality and soar. I could live a thousand lives and never meet another Grant. The way he loves other people, and his tenacity as he faces challenges, serve as constant reminders of how I want to live. These are the men that God knew I would need to become the woman he intended me to be.

I pray there is one yet to come. A man that looks past the battle scars, and sees the light within. Someone that laughs easily, is unafraid to show affection, and will cherish all the days we will share. Although I don’t even know his name, I patiently wait with eager anticipation. Just like the ones that came before him, his love will force me to grow in ways still unknown. For each day I draw breath, I am deeply grateful for the unique, infuriating, magnificent, maddening, and extraordinary men in my life.