Apropos Of Nothing; An Encounter With My Son
That seems to be the extent of our relationship these days. I always thought we'd talk; real talking like we once did, when he used to crawl into bed with me and tell me his secrets. Now his secrets are his own and his life outside our home is a mystery to me.
I really thought that wouldn't happen with my boys. I guess every Mom does. But I really tried to be the kind of Mom they would talk to. I guess every Mom does. I really thought that we wouldn't become strangers. I guess every Mom does. I have become every Mom, wondering why my baby insists on barricading himself in his room and prefers the company of his friends to mine. When did I become so dull? When did I become so stupid and clueless and just wrong about everything?
I always thought I was reasonably sharp and somewhat intelligent. I read. I listen to cool music. I don't wear Mom jeans. I'm not completely lame. Am I? I am. Because I'm his Mom. The very word conjures uncoolness and oppression. I have to be his parent. So I can't be his friend. It's the way things have always been and I guess I can't expect to change that singlehandedly.
As he passes me, I feel the warmth of his body. I smell his sleep stale breath and his man aroma. I used to smell him on purpose, but I don't do that anymore. I realize I am staring at his breastbone. He realizes it too.
He looks down at me in a way that makes me feel like the child.
"Mom...when did you get so short?"
No...my sweet baby son. The question is, when did you get so impossibly big? Yesterday you were elephant walking across the playground. Yesterday there was nothing you wanted more than me. Yesterday I could pick you up and hold you close and keep you safe. And you let me.
And what does tomorrow bring? Whatever it is, I'm not ready. Because I'm still trying to reconcile that you're old enough to ride the bus by yourself and tie your own shoes.
I wonder if, when I'm 80, and you're 54, I'll still be marvelling that you've graduated from college, married, and become a father yourself.
Time is a vexing thing when you have children. It creeps and flies at once. But we don't get to choose which moments to hold onto, and which to fast forward through. And we don't get to remember them all no matter how we try.
I don't answer him, I just smile. Then I stand on tiptoe and kiss his cheek, which, I find, is now coated with a fine layer of fuzz.
He looks at me puzzled. I'm a loving Mom, but not a demonstrative one. He rubs his cheek and grins, for once heedless of exposing all the metal in his mouth.
"I need to make fun of your stature more often, shorty." he says.
So it seems I've been successful in one respect. I have been resoundingly successful in schooling my son in the fine art of sarcasm.
May it serve him well.