My Boy’s Journey to Manhood

As my 18-year-old son prepares to graduate from high school in just a couple of weeks, a stroll down memory lane led to this piece I’d written six years ago. There’s such magic in seeing the connection between those boyhood moments and his emergence into manhood…

When Tucker was a little guy, he’d fashion fishing poles out of sticks and string and hang his “rods” over the back of the kitchen sofa. A bite from a big one, would require great effort and lots of groaning until he successfully reeled in his imaginary catch.

His first “real” rod was red, all of three feet long, with Mickey Mouse on the reel and a little, yellow rubber fish attached to the line.

It wasn’t long until the rod without a hook was no longer satisfactory, and Tuck graduated to a new real rod, hook and all. He learned how to put on worms and release the fish he’d caught, and every vacation, his fishing pole was the first thing in the car.

But as he grew older, his interest in fishing waned, replaced by more active endeavors like skateboarding, biking and soccer.

Yet on this Memorial Day, there he was casting a line way out into the water. “I haven’t seen him fish in ages,” I said to Lee who was sitting nearby, changing the lure on his rod.

“Look at the picture on the camera and you’ll know why,” he said.

I turned on the camera and saw the picture they’d taken just before releasing the bass my husband had caught.

“No wonder he’s inspired,” I said. But by late afternoon, all he’d caught were five small perch.

“He won’t let these fish go,” my daughter, Andie complained, staring into the bucket where the fish were swimming around.

“I’m cooking them for our dinner,” Tuck said, flipping his hair out of his big, excited eyes. The day’s sun had lured a few new freckles out on his nose.

“Dinner?” I asked, thinking of our nearly packed car and desire to get back home.

“Yeah.  I’ve made dinner, but that food was from the store. This is dinner I caught,” he said.

Looking into the wide eyes of my soon to be thirteen-year-old son, I knew this was a significant event.

“OK,” I said. “Go ask Daddy to show you how to clean the fish.”

My daughter, Andie was distraught. “You can’t kill those fish,” she cried.  “I won’t eat them.”

“You love fish,” Tucker reminded her.

“But those are from the store,” she said, prompting a discussion on food sources.

(Later she “accidently” let one go, but Lee helped her catch a replacement, which she reluctantly put in the bucket with the others.)

As Lee and Tuck covered the picnic table with newspaper and sharp knives, Andie hovered nearby.  She squealed when Tucker cut the heads off the still wriggling fish, but his squared shoulders seemed to say, Look at me providing sustenance for my family.

Five little perch isn’t a lot of sustenance, but with beans and left over pasta, it amounted to a meal.

We each had a couple three-inch fillets that Tuck had dredged in milk and breadcrumbs and fried in butter.  Andie, who wasn’t going to eat her little friends, pleaded with everyone to share a bit more off their plate.

The fish was truly delicious. But even more delicious was witnessing my boy take a step toward manhood, swelling with pride as he demonstrated his ability to care for those he loves.




His interests may have changed, but that little boy wanting to care for the ones he loves still lives deep inside him.

Many Memorial Day blessings to you,


On Mother’s Day

As Mother’s Day approaches, I’ve been thinking about my role as Mom and wondering what childhood memories will really stand out for my kids as they grow older.

I assumed it would be those really extraordinary times, the ones that take lots of planning and big effort…

The trips into Boston to the Museum of Science, the Aquarium, Faneuil Hall, Fenway Park… that Mother’s Day when we all dressed up and went to the Museum of Fine Arts and then that pricey South End restaurant…

All those holidays where I shopped, cooked, baked and decorated to make it all just perfect and special and unforgettable…

Or the birthday parties… the one when Andie invited every single kid in her class and quite a few from Tucker’s, the bowling alleys, the moonwalks, the gigantic cakes…

Or the vacations we saved for, the gifts, the fancy outfits, the expensive restaurants…

I brought up some of those special occasions with the kids the other day and was met with mostly blank stares. After jogging their memories with key details about each event, they both said variations of Yeah, I kind of remember that, offering me sympathy pats on the shoulder and saying That was fun, Mom.

So, I started thinking back on what I remember most from my own childhood. I closed my eyes and allowed memories to wash over me…

Sitting on our front flagstone steps next to my mother’s tanned legs while she flipped through that day’s mail and turned the pages of the evening newspaper. 

Mom and I stretched out on the camel back sofa in our den drinking rainbow sherbet-ginger ale floats, watching the 1970’s game show To Tell the Truth. 

A Friday night, I was really young, but we stayed up late and ate a steak dinner with garlic bread and sat around the table so long that the mushroom shaped candle burned right down to a pile of wax. 

Mom’s pink and white striped collapsible lounge chair, the kind that made the click, click, click noise when it was opened or folded up, and the smell of her Hawaiian tanning oil floating in the air.

My backyard birthday party when Mom joined in the relay race and had to sit on a big balloon to make it pop…

As memories continued to flood in, I couldn’t help but notice just how ordinary they all seemed. They were just everyday moments I spent hanging out with Mom.

And then I got it; maybe it’s not about creating memories, it’s about just being with my children and allowing memories to happen.


My Mom!

So in honor of my mom and just in case the kids want a delightful memory to store away for someday, I made root beer floats and we all curled up on the couch to watch Jeopardy!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.  Thanks for the memories.

May your Mother’s Day be a day full of wonderful memories and if you’re looking for a gift that will touch every mom’s heart, my story of unexpected motherhood can be found here – Preemie: Lessons in Love, Life, and Motherhood 

With love and blessings,