Comfort in his arms
soft kisses nuzzling my neck
Our backs arch to dance.
Thunder booms, fierce wind
Don’t be scared, my son, my love.
I will comfort you.
A few days ago I learned a huge lesson when I accidentally ran into a good friend of my mother’s in the grocery store. He asked about “the children” whom he has known since they were 3 and 5. I talked, half laughing and half serious about what they were doing, about how life has changed, how we see them less, and how grown up they are, “He looked at me and said solemnly “Yes, this is truly the hardest part.” Thankful for his understanding, I asked him “when this stage will end?” seeking his sage advice.
He looked at me directly with his intense, blue eyes and he said bluntly” “twenty years.” I thought he was joking but he was dead serious. “Forget it now, leave it and after they get married and have kids they’ll come back but not until then.” After that, he left quickly.
I automatically moved my cart to the fruit and vegetable section and stopped abruptly between the bananas and nectarines and all I wanted to do was cry. The last week had been a difficult one, a confusing one for me and this was the culmination that I didn’t want to hear but needed to hear. Rationally of course, I knew this and was proud of my independent children but emotionally I felt something was amiss. The son with whom I communicate with a glance or one word was acting strangely, apparently, he felt the same way about me. Neither one of us was direct.
I thought I should get an Academy Award for Best Actress, encouraging him to have fun on new adventures, understanding totally why he would stay up at school for the entire week of his break. Apparently I fooled myself but not him. He saw through me before I SAW myself yet I could also read him, he felt a little guilty as well.
What we have learned: Communicate Directly even if it feels hard to do. Do it sooner than later. Me and mini-me know each other so well, but this time, he knew me better than I knew myself. My son communicated with his dad, his dad knowing things but not telling me, he WAS involved even though he didn’t want to be and he refused to play mediator….needless to say, It got messy.
I really do need a job and to get out of the house more. There will be major changes in our lives but they are not here yet. We need to sit tight where we are and I am not known for my patience. Any type of separation for an emotional doll like me feels like someone just lashed out and slapped me in the face repeatedly. So this piece is my own personal time capsule. All my life my goal was to be a mom and raise two wonderful young people and I know I succeeded. Now it’s time for me to do new things, walk away slowly, knowing I did a great job. I’m smiling now, things make much more sense and I’m the one looking back and leaving, it’s so much easier than being left. Let’s take it up again, in twenty years.
ON PARENTING: TODDLERS AND TEENS
I’m looking back, way back to when my children were small and life seemed uncomplicated and I felt deeply loved. Our two children, twenty-one months apart, were in grade school, only one school year apart and we were busy all the time.We had just acquired two goldfish that my son and daughter won at a school carnival, aptly named “Ball One” and “Ball Two.” Hard to forget those names. There was also a time when my son named his snail TJ for his and his sister’s initials with the sworn promise (including a pinky swear) from her that the next year she would return the favor and name the snail JT. She ended up naming the snail Sarah Allie after her teacher and I don’t things were ever quite the same after that. That innocent little snail became a reference for many years to come.
When my daughter, the baby of the family, now seventeen, was little, she was terribly shy. No one but I existed for her. “Up” she whispered to me, her arms outstretched for me to pick her up. I always did with great pleasure and pride. The feeling of being loved is a rare gift. At 17, she barely nods in my direction now. I admit that I mourned that loss of affection. Once in a while we will have an easy, fun, conversation, most often I feel like I’m walking on egg shells getting icy death stares from her.
I know it’s the teenage years but ask any mom how she feels about this stage, with sons and daughters, and if she is honest she will tell you that sometimes it really stings. Sometimes one’s child is so intentionally mean that you need to escape behind the locked bathroom door, run the water quickly and sob. You get over it, you have to, there is no choice. You are the parent, not a friend, you need to set the example. Bold, provocative taunts are so direct, they bore into me like lasers. Ouch, yes, they do hurt. We are parents, not robots. We have feelings too.
When our older son was little he was everyone’s friend. Outgoing, verbal, a politician. In restaurants he would wave to strangers and if they didn’t wave back, he was sad and confused. When he was two and a half he used the word “compromise” to one of the members of our baby birth- class reunion. This other dad refused to believe him and asked him on the spot, interrogating him like a lawyer; without skipping a beat our son said “if Mommy and Daddy say I have to go to bed at seven and I want to go to bed at nine, we compromise so I go to bed at 8 in the middle.” Suck on that disbeliever. There were no more follow-up questions from the parent as he headed sheepishly back to his own drooling toddler.
The introduction of a baby sister to our son when he was only twenty-one months old was fairly easy for him, after all, she bought him a “cozy coupe.” There were a few occasions when he asked when “we would be returning her?” or “giving that baby back?” but that’s understandable. His position as first and only child had been usurped after a very short time.
I vowed that if I ever had a son, it was my calling to make him a loving and kind young man. He is everything I hoped he would be and more. We can read each others emotions in a blink of an eye or laugh at something no one else understands. It is different but equal with my daughter as we look to each other with “girl power” over the boys. My daughter has a close relationship with her father which makes me proud, I too was extremely close to my dad when he was alive. A daughter’s first relationship should reflect the one she had with her dad, and I couldn’t be happier.
I love both my children the same amount. It’s like saying do you prefer your left arm or your right? They are both part of me. But, connecting with them on an emotional level is different; it has to be, each child has their own, unique personality!
They are children no longer, they are adults, making their own decisions and know that we are here for them, always. Whenever they want to come “home” to ask for advice or to be a child again during college breaks, we look forward to seeing them. I usually get so excited the night before seeing them that I can’t sleep. We will miss you both next year. We love you and we like you and we are so proud of both of you. Truly and of course, Equally.
It’s two days before my son’s 19th birthday and for the first year ever, he’s not with me, his mom and his family. It’s his first year of college and he is having an incredible time; I couldn’t be happier. But, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss him today and that the thought of him made me cry with selfish sadness. I feel sentimental about my boy, now a fine young man, and I have to get used to the fact that he will be spending his birthdays partying with his friends for many years to come. I know his family is still important but we are in the background now and one day in the future he will celebrate his birthday with his own family.
He is perfectly fine spending his birthday away from his family, it’s just me feeling a little blue. Can you blame me? Wasn’t it just yesterday that I shopped for Thomas the Tank Engine? Or even the horrible fighting games for X Box 360 that we reluctantly bought him when he was older?
I know he still remembers his favorite surprise “Batman” party when he was four when his cousin and his aunt flew up for the party; that was an event he will always remember. Our daughter, his little sister, was terrified of “Batman” and clung to our mother’s helper, Erin, for dear life. He went from “Batman” to beer in a hurry, it seems. I guess I haven’t completely caught up.
Of course I sent him a birthday box last week with sweet treats and a card with a check but I just feel something is missing. That something is him. Right about now I would have been wrapping packages and scurrying to find the special cards that I bought and saved. We would put his presents on the “birthday table” and wait for him to wake up and find them. The whole family would always crowd around the birthday girl or boy, mom and dad. It was always a lot like Christmas every year. Birthdays are really big in our house. Huge.
So on Thursday, I will be wishing my first-born a happy birthday over the phone; I’m scared to “skype” with him because I think I will cry. No matter what, even if I say one word, he will know my infamous “shaky voice” and I don’t want to share that with him on his birthday, his special day. That’s just the type of kid he is, he picks up other people’s feelings in a second, picks up on the same emotional radar that I have. I love you for being a great kid and a wonderful young man. I’m happy and proud to call you my son.
Love Always, Mom