To My Son on His Bar Mitzvah

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Congratulations, Payton.

You have worked hard for this day and you deserve to bask in your accomplishments. I am proud of you today, but the truth is, I am proud of you every day.

I remember the day you were born. I was overwhelmed with the little bundle in my arms. I tried to comprehend that we had a son, that I was a mom. That you were real. That we were partners in the miracle of life. I couldn’t wait to get to know you.

Since that time you have grown 93 pounds and close to 4 feet. You have reached countless milestones. Way too many to name. But while I marvel at this measurable growth, it is the immeasurable growth that is astounding to me.

In my wildest imagination, I couldn’t have dreamed up, not only a better son, but a better person. You have surpassed all of my expectations 10 times over.

When you were 2 years old, we had a nightly ritual. I would say, “Let’s talk about our day” and then relay all the events and people we saw – going to the park, what we ate for lunch. You loved this and as I would lay with you and tuck you in, you would say, “Talk day. Talk day”

Sure, you are a procrastinator, you have to be told more than once to do something, your room can be a mess and on more than one occasion, I have had to bring a lunch or notebook to school that you have forgotten. But I am far from perfect and, besides, today is about celebrating you.

You make me laugh. Your quick wit and intelligent humor, your enormous vocabulary and knack for comedic timing really make me laugh. Not because you are my son, but because you are truly funny.

You are a loyal friend. You are the kid who notices the new kid and takes the time to get to know him. When Ethan came to school new this year, you asked if he could come over on Halloween and a friendship sprang from there.

You are a Renaissance man. I remember the day we raced to get you from the lacrosse field just as a game ended – sweaty, cheeks still flush from physical exertion and knees stained with grass and dirt. In that state, you jumped out of my car and ran into theater practice for “The Music Man” and as they saw you come, they started playing your part – still in your cleats and uniform, you began singing your solo in Wells Fargo Wagon.

Like a typical boy, you like to smash things in the backyard with a double sided dull ax. While I know boys like to destroy things, you also delight in creating things. Just last month, with a crochet hook and yarn in your hands, you made Olivia a beautiful blue scarf.

I’ve seen you not only work hard, but appreciate the hard work of others. Not long ago we were walking and you paused to notice a beautifully manicured lawn. You said to me, “Wow, look at the edging job.” You appreciated the time and talent it took to get that straight edge, because you mow and edge our lawn.

You love your family. I delight that at 13 1/2, one of your favorite things to do is family movie night, to curl up on the couch with blankets and popcorn and just be together.

I admire you – from a painfully shy toddler, you have emerged a confident and bold individual.

I smile when you correct my grammar.

Above all you are a mensch. A good person. Just last week, I left you in charge at Wyatt’s football game because Dad was out of town and I had to pick up Sally. I left you with money to buy pizza at the snack bar. When I returned, you told me that you handed the man at the snack bar a $10 bill and he erroneously gave you change for $20. You immediately corrected him. No one was looking, no one would have known. But you knew the right thing to do and without being told, you did it. There are grown men who would not have had the same level of honesty and integrity.

Today, as you become a Bar Mitzvah, you symbolically become a man. You are not a man because you learned Hebrew and read from the Torah today. Although I am proud beyond words that you have taken your place in a long and strong chain of tradition. You can proudly stand among a people that have preserved and overcome oppression for more than 5,000 years. That will add richness and depth to the rest of your life.

Also, you will not magically be a man because you turn 18 on Sept. 6, 2015.

You are becoming a man for the goodness in your soul, the ability to navigate through life with your own moral compass. Your desire to help make the world a better and more beautiful place. Your ability to laugh and make other’s laugh. To cling to family and friends, be deeply rooted, yet open minded.

We wish you happiness, health, love and shalom.

This will definitely be a day we can talk about forever.


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