I can’t believe I’m actually going to pet the huge, disgusting beetle. I stick my finger out and stroke his crusty little back, my mouth contorts into what I hope is a smile.
My 3-year-old son jumps up and down and squeals with delight. Then his finger replaces mine, and I sit back and watch my son touch the bug, the smile on my own face now real.
His daddy is his hero, and any airplane flying overhead is surely the one that Daddy is flying. But I’m the one who sits at the breakfast table and the lunch table, talking about airplanes and geckoes and our plans to go jalan-jalan (Indonesian for anything that involves going somewhere).
And though his Daddy is fearless with bugs and lizards, I jump when I see a spider and shriek when a gecko falls out of my cupboard onto me.
But though my job as a Mama of a little boy is to cut the peanut butter and jelly into a truck shape, and give big hugs after a fall, I want to be a Mama, not just of my 3-year-old baby, but of a boy who will someday be a man. And that means teaching him to be brave.
So I pet beetles clinging to the screen door and point out geckoes on our walls and send him off on adventures in airplanes with his daddy.
And somewhere in facing my fears of Borneo-sized critters, I hope Evan will learn how to be brave in bigger things in this place, too. Like understanding other cultures when it means we learn new ways of saying things. Like sharing what we like with people we should love.
Like staying strong through hard things while keeping a heart tender in trust. Like living in faith’s future even when we are sinking in today’s discouragements. Like doing things that might hurt or sting if it means we will learn and grow.
Like being brave, not just for the sake of being tough, but so that he can reach those trapped in fear or poverty or need.
It’s a big job, this role as mother of a son. And I fear I will get it wrong. But then I remember that I touched—no, I pet, that beetle, and I stroked the gecko, and I nudged the boy to try it too.
And I smile in that place between uncertainty and hope, trusting he will grow to be a man who lives beyond his fears.