Have you ever seen the circus act with the spinning plates? (Maybe you've seen it on The Tonight Show, or an old episode of Ed Sullivan.) The plate master carefully sets each platter on a long stick and starts it going, then races around to make sure nothing gets forgotten and falls to the ground. It's a breathtaking feat of stamina, balance, and finesse, tempered with a bit of good old-fashioned luck.
Being the mother of a large family is a bit like being that plate-spinning maniac. We moms of large broods are always racing around trying to keep everyone's plates spinning, and, more often that not, we're left sweeping up bits of china, without even a studio audience to cheer us on.
I fear I've let an important plate going flying these days. My eldest son AJ is not feelin' the love, so to speak. I looked back over my blog and realize he has a point -- he hasn't been getting much attention these days.
Oh, of course he gets my attention when he runs up a huge cell phone bill or forgets to wash the dishes. But he does plenty to deserve positive attention as well. With all the focus on the girls' weddings this summer, and with Joey going to high school, and with the little boys going from cute to needy on an hourly basis, AJ hasn't been in the spotlight much.
The truth is AJ is a great young man. He does so much for me around the house, and has for years. I came across an essay I wrote about him when he was nine, and I got a bit teary-eyed reading it. In it I share AJ's propensity for building things that begin to develop when he was very young. He is still building things for me, and is our family's resident handyman. This summer, for instance, he painted three rooms an hung more shelves than you could shake a stick at. (He was working off that cell phone bill, but never mind that.)
What I appreciate even more about my son is that he is interested in being good. I don't mean that he is obsessed with behaving himself, but that he earnestly seeks goodness and character. He told me the other day that he is considering several career paths, but that his main concern is providing for the family he will have someday. His real goal is to be a good father. How cool is that?
This is a boy who cares for his littlest brothers, (when Luke was born we called AJ "the baby nurse") goes out of his way to include Joey in his activities, goes to confession on his own every month, and is not embarrassed to be an altar server or go shopping with his mom. Yes, he's also a boy who runs up cell phone bills and forgets to wash the dishes. But I think the balance is pretty good.
It's been said that a mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child, and I feel bummed along with my son these days. I can't blame him if he's felt I've forgotten him lately. Since he's not too cool to read his mom's blog, I hope he now knows that's not the case.
AJ, I know you've always got my back. You know you're my right hand. Sorry I haven't posted cool pictures of you on the internet....what was I thinking?
I love you, son. Thank you for all you do, and for all you are working to become.