“I’m 18!” “But you’re still my son!”
Her hair is jet black. Her smile is still strong. Her ring finger is empty. But her eyes are tired. She’s a flight attendant from Nashville to KC manning the exit row.
We exchange pleasantries and find commonality in that we both have 18 year-old sons. Hers is going to junior college. He doesn’t know what he wants to become so that’s a good place for now. And she’s glad that he’s got his first job working at the AMC theatres selling popcorn.
Before the job, she tells me that her son spent most of his time in the basement playing video games. It drove her crazy.
Sometimes they’d have standoffs, and it was her against him. He, at 18, pronounced his superiority, his independence (even though he didn’t have any earning power and Game of Thrones was his realm). He, in exasperation, said it loudly, “Mom, I’m 18!”
And hers is the plea of so many single moms, wanting and desiring that he’ll turn out okay, that he’ll work hard, that he’ll believe in something, that he’ll contribute to the world and stand for something. It’s the plain and simple statement that’s packed with every ounce of meaning and love:
“But you’re still my son…!”
My heart breaks for her. She’s doing her best to keep her family together. She’ll be home tomorrow, and she tells me that she still misses her son even on a one-night trip.
The plane fills. I get my obligatory exit row instructions, and she goes off to work. And all I can do is pray grace over her life, her son and the plea for family.