A Son is a son till he takes him a wife,
A daughter’s a daughter all of her life.
I have the loveliest memories of my son looking up at me in complete and utter adoration when he was a little boy. One time, whatever I had done to impress him, he gazed up at me in love and wonder and pronounced “OH, Mom, you are SO intalented.” I thought my heart would simply pop right out of my chest. When he was about fourteen I clearly remember him very seriously telling me how he and another friend of his were proud to call themselves ‘Mama’s boys’. At that age, he would still crawl unashamedly up onto the bed with me each night as I read chapter after chapter of Harry Potter to him and his younger sister. As the song goes, I thought those days would never end…
Perhaps a year after that particular conversation, he went into his room, closed the door, and… stayed there… until he moved out at age nineteen.
I exaggerate slightly, but those years were the most difficult I have ever lived through. His was little less than a sullen, ghostly presence and the only emotion I seemed to be able to draw out of him with any consistency was scorn. Up until then, I had thought I was being a pretty good mother: definitely too overprotective, I admit, but nonetheless, mostly on the right track. Overnight, I lost all my self-confidence. I questioned every decision I made and started making progressively worse decisions the more I hesitated. I let him run roughshod all over me. I lost all credibility, not only with my son, but with my new husband who watched my shameful antics to make my son love me again with growing disbelief.
When my son was aged eighteen or so, I ran into the mother of a friend he had had since kindergarten. I had been attending a work meeting downtown and was just off on my own for a quick bite of lunch. Over the years, my son’s friend had stayed over at our house countless times; been to every birthday party. He was like a second son to me, and yet I hadn’t laid eyes on him in years. I listened in silence with a big, fake smile painfully pasted on my face as his Mom went on and on about how ‘wonderful’ my son was; how much she enjoyed his (frequent) visits at her house; what a fine young man he was; how polite; how well brought-up. She asked me about a project my son was working on that I had absolutely no knowledge of. I gave some vague reply about not having discussed it with him yet and registered her look of disappointed surprise that I was not even aware of this very important ‘thing’ that my son was working on. It took every ounce of strength I had to keep that smile on place and not burst into tears. I couldn’t wait for enough time to have passed so I could politely excuse myself.
Things got better after my son moved out and gained some much-needed independence, but several more years would pass with my son being little more than a stranger who occasionally popped in for a birthday meal or a Christmas gift exchange. I missed so many things about him: his great, uninhibited, impulsive belly-laugh; his amazing sense of humour; our shared love of movies; a sensitivity he is so careful to show only to a very select few; his insatiable curiosity; his sharp intelligence. I bonded a great deal with his sister during those years: her brother had always been very much like an afternoon sun to her quiet sunset and she often withdrew into herself whenever he was in the same space. But even as those years connecting with my daughter on a much deeper level were precious to me, I nonetheless still inwardly mourned for the look of adoration my son used to wear when he would gaze up at me, all those years before.
And then, when he was around 24 years old, he asked if I would like to help him move into the first apartment he would live in, completely on his own (no roommates). I jumped at the opportunity; filled the trunk of my car with scrub buckets, cleaning cloths, a mop and my vacuum cleaner. I joyfully spent hours helping him get his place set up and liveable. After several hours of working contentedly side by side, I was scrubbing something on my hands and knees as he assembled some piece of furniture a few feet away when he said “This is really nice, Mom. You never helped me move in before.”. I stopped and looked up. “I wanted to honey,” I replied, “You just never asked. I would do this for you anytime, you know.” There was a healing in me that day – in both of us, I think. We didn’t speak of the silent years when he stopped talking to me, but somehow, we didn’t have to. Sensitive, perceptive and introspective, he is very much his mother’s son: it seemed we were both ready to come back to one another.
He is in his mid twenties now and busy starting his life. He works long and crazy hours but I push things more than I used to. If I am in town, I always try to pin him down for – at the very least – a breakfast or a lunch. He works in theatre and I try to attend as many of his plays as I can. When we get together, I open up; tell him about my life; encourage him to do the same. He told me recently that I am one of the people he admires most.
I thought my heart would simply pop right out of my chest…
(Thank you honey, for granting me permission to print this one…xoxo Mom)
Patti Moore Wilson © wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com