My Big Boys

When I first met Gabe, he was 9 years old. He was super cute, and super chatty. He was so comfortable with adults and had his Dad’s charm. I instantly liked him and knew he was a special kid. However, he struggled with school (academics), and he struggled with some anxieties (some I think were anxieties that had been around for a while, and some I think stemmed from all the divorce drama this little man had lived). It was rough going the first little while. I firmly believed he had the potential to achieve so much, but just needed a little pushing, and a little routine and stability in his life. He already knew he was loved (by both his parents), but a little extra love would never hurt (the perks of having a step parent) and he just needed to see for a split second the greatness that he was destined for.

Zach, was my first born. I was so excited to find out I was expecting (and shocked too). I didn’t find out the sex, but knew in my heart it was a boy. And what a boy he was. Gorgeous, easy going, and “wise”. People all the time came up to me and commented how wise this little man looked – even as a baby. My father was a very wise soul, and I knew in my heart, that is where Zach got it from. Needless to say the memories of my first baby, I will always cherish. When Zach was 4, his life changed when his Dad and I got divorced. To say he felt abandoned would be an understatement. He would sob, cry out in the night, and not let me take the garbage out as I described here. I knew that he was a strong child and saw how he dealt with his struggles, even as a little guy, with such grace and courage.

Fast forward several years to now. Gabe is almost 15 and Zach is almost 12.

My boys are turning into little men – real little men – before my very eyes.

Both have dealt with adversity and challenges. Both have had to put in so much hard work to get to many places. Both have had to deal with two homes, different routines, constant change, constant uncertainty and a complete lack of control.

Yet, as I watch them grow, I see greatness coming out of them. Seriously.

Gabe today has an award ceremony at school. He is receiving an academic award for being a student who improved his grades in 4 or more courses over the course of the year, dramatically. He is attending activities where he knows no one and making friends there. He has done an overnight school trip (last year) and is trying out overnight camp again this year. He is starting to do some extracurricular activities too. He is questioning things, and seeking out answers. Doing all this, still while being the super amazing kid he always has been: passionate about airplanes, curious about electronics, educated about cars and engines, completely hilarious and easy to talk to. Oh, and darn handsome to boot:)

Zach yesterday had ANOTHER disappointment with his soccer team. He is a great player, and has some amazing soccer pals, but his coach is something else. The kind of person that must be placed in Zach’s life to teach him some lessons on how “not” to be. But he is also the kind of coach who is teaching Zach the reality of how many people are in life: insecure, not the nicest and out to get ya. Sad, that a 12 year old has to endure that on a team, but it is the reality we all end up facing at some point. Well, Zach is facing it with such grace and courage. He hasn’t let it deter his love of soccer, or his ability to play well and hard and give it his all. He hasn’t let it derail his status of being his little brother’s biggest fan either – which I am so impressed with (Josh’s team is so well led and organized; such a far stretch from Zach’s team). But no, Zach still is by the sidelines coaching Josh and recording all his assists and goals with pride. He has continued to work hard, be positive, stay enthusiastic, and be a good sport – all while looking terrific on the field (and of course, off the field) and making us roll over in stitches with his commentary and jokes.

Gabe and Zach together (they share a room) are dynamo. They support each other, they talk about everything, and they are the best comedy team. And the best legal/negotiating team when trying to win a case at home.

So, while my heart aches – and my head is in disbelief –  at how my life is changing, there is a new feeling of awe and happiness at the direction it is all going in.  I am slowly, but surely,  becoming the Mom/Smom of teenagers and tweens. The baby years are in the far distance, memories easily recalled, smells and touches right at my fingertips, but they are truly gone from my reality. Replacing the reality is the joy and happiness at watching my big boys become the amazing men I know they were always meant to be. My heart bursts more with pride when THEY do something, or THEY overcome a challenge, or a barrier, more than when I do now. I look to them as examples of hard work, courage and compassion.

Yes, they are still ordinary boys, and I am still all over them to clean their room, get studying, put their clothes away and to help out a bit more. But I am seeing more and more glimmers of who they are and who they are becoming  – and I like it. I like it a lot. They are choice men. They will make choice husbands. They will make choice fathers. They will be pillars of strength and compassionate leaders, with a twist of funny.

I’m so blessed that they have started their journey in my home. I’m so blessed that these little men of greatness are following the example of the great man, husband, father and stepfather that Rob is.  I couldn’t love them more.

They are the greatness that will make the world a better place.


My Big Boys — 8 Comments

  1. What a great article! I got tears in my eyes reading it. Your boys are so lucky to have you as a mom/smom! I too have kids who are teens, and it is bittersweet to see them growing up. They’ve become amazing kids, but because of divorce, two of them have thought they needed to choose a parent–which wasn’t me or my husband, but both of our exes. That’s been a painful learning opportunity to practice unconditional love and acceptance. Parental Alienation is so prevalent, so damaging, and I am so glad to read here that it hasn’t happened to you. I wish you continuing success as a parent to these fine young men.

    • My heart goes out to you, Nicole. Children desperately need both their parents. Even if we may not like our ex, or agree with their parenting, our children need them to feel complete. I hope your kids will find their way back to you both –sooner rather than later.

  2. very beautiful post and fully agree with this bittersweet stage perspective
    Love it and so far from little babies isnt it?

    When saw title thought wa.s going to be about Josh and Zach…was fun to read about Gabe and his grwoing up too.

    Hope you are loving the beach !

    • They are my big boys!! Josh and Sam, we call the “little boys”:)) Can’t believe all our boys are growing. Can;t wait to have your boys come visit this summer! 6 boys under one roof! YAH BOYS!!

  3. I can’t even tell you how much I love this post. You got me, Leah. I’m typing through tears over here. I just love how you are celebrating your big boys. I feel that we don’t always do this, as a culture, for some reason. Preteen and teen boys just get such a bad rap. They have their moments (like everyone) but they are the BEST. They deserve celebrating. Your two boys sound just wonderful and are adorable. They are lucky to have you and you are lucky to have them. LOVE THIS!! –Lisa

    • Thanks Lisa! I dreamed a life of girls when I was younger….and was blessed with one step daughter and 4 BOYS!!! 4 wonderful, amazing, energetic, loud, physical, silly, spunky BOYS!!! Love them all:)

  4. This is so beautiful! My parents had their work cut out for them – my dad becoming stepdad to me and my sister and my mom becoming stepmom to my dad’s two boys and another girl. My mom only gave birth to daughters but she was blessed with two sons through marriage. The road hasn’t always been easy but we’ve all come a long way.

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