In the last 48 hours, crying has become a sport for me. I’ve cried at least twelve gallons of tears, which means theoretically I am twelve pounds lighter.
Actually I’m not sure the math is right there, but I’m never sure math is right. Frankly I still have my doubts about the multiplication of numbers in general. I worry it’s a trick from the Devil, much like making dryer sheets smell so good but taste so bad.
The Big Dog started his Senior year in high school this morning. He was happy, if not completely wiped out from football practice that started at 5:45 in the AM. He popped in after practice to shower and change and head back to school. I fought the tears and waited until I knew he was safely in his car and on his way before I fell in a heap on the sofa.
I sobbed out loud and told the dogs how much I wish I could go back to first grade again. Back when I was still “Momma” and he was still “The Puppy”. I’d love just one more chance to have him sing me a song, (Your Song by Garth Brooks), drive his Match Box cars in and out my feet while I cooked supper, or sit with me completely enthralled by the latest episode of Rug Rats. I’d give my left ventricle to hear him read to me again about Dot and Spot and Bill, and the unbelievably boring lives they lived there in the land of first grade books.
If I could find some magic to go back to the night he asked me to let him put syrup on his corn, I would. He was an inquisitive child and I thought the request was one I should allow in the interest of learning. At first he was committed to his notion that it would be a delicious treat, but he pretty quickly decided perhaps syrup was not an appropriate condiment for vegetables of any kind.
Or maybe if given the choice, I’d choose to go back to when Fred the Beta fish died. He requested a funeral fitting for the kind of life Fred lived. He wanted me to make fried chicken and chocolate cake, a tiny wreath for the grave-site, and he wanted his cousin to be invited to share in the mourning. It was quite the send off and filled with tears and affirming words of love during the eulogy as the Puppy shared all his fondest memories of Fred.
“Remember when I’d come home from school and he’d be swimming around that fake bush? Remember that? He loved that bush. He loved to swim.”
It was all very sad, until later that week when my Scooby-Doo obsessed child suspected Fred had in fact not succumbed to natural fish-causes but rather had met with some sort of foul play. He again called his cousin over and together they Mystery-Machined it on up, unearthed Fred’s remains, and investigated the crime scene.
I do not recall the Coroner’s findings.
So many wonderful moments I’d love to visit again.
The spring break when he wanted to camp out so I, being the nature loving Mom I was, (insert crazy laughter here) got a tent and pitched it in the front yard. Yes – it took us all day long to get the tent up so that the middle was higher than the rest. Yes – I whispered super bad words in Pig Latin while doing it. But by golly, we got that tent up. We spent the rest of the break sitting in it eating gummy worms and reading books and building with blocks.
The time in middle school when I went to an awards ceremony and watched a teacher stand up to talk about some student in his class. They’d had a drive to raise money for kids at Christmas and the reward for the class who raised the most money would be a pizza party. He got choked up and his eyes filled when he shared there was one boy who told the class he felt they should raise money just because it was the right thing to do, and that they shouldn’t take the pizza party. He said the boy had also brought in all the money from his own savings at home. Of course when at the end he told everyone it was my son he was talking about, I wasn’t surprised.
All these years, I’ve never had to worry about my boy making good decisions. He was born the kind of person who does what’s right because he knows it’s right. I have rarely punished him. He was never spanked, and I can remember less than handful of times I had to ground him.
I see him now, tall and with his Dad’s broad shoulders and grown-up man hands, and sometimes I can barely stand the miracle of what I’m seeing.
You live your life day in and day out with your kids, sometimes just getting from one moment to the next and it’s easy to forget in the midst of it that there will come an end to it all. You’re busy, after all.
You’re busy caring for them when they are burning up with fever, and you clean up so much puke you wonder if they’re inviting friends over to help them vomit.
You bake thirty-five cupcakes at the last minute at least once a year for at least five years. You remind them a million and one times to say thank you and please and to chew with their mouths closed and to keep their elbows off the table. You hear yourself saying, “I don’t like you very much right now, but I always love you,” and you hope that message will sink in so that they’ll remember it someday when they do something so awful they’re absolutely terrified to tell you.
There are hundreds of moments when you wonder if any other parent on Earth has ever been as frustrated as you are. There are thousands of moments of watching them sleep at night when you wonder if any other parent on Earth could love a child as much as you love yours.
And then one day, before you’re ready, your job is pretty much over.
As mine is now.
No one needs me very much these days. My son is independent, and busy. I’m witnessing (along with his Dad and his step-parents) the sum of all the work we’ve put into him, and I have to say, it’s bittersweet. It fills my heart with pride that he is a steadfast, dependable worker at his job. It makes me happy that he treats his girlfriend with respect and kindness. I am delighted that he gets himself up for school and that he isn’t the kind to lay in bed and fight me before facing his day. I praise all that is good in the Universe that he doesn’t drink, or smoke, or do things that break a Mother’s heart.
He is fond of telling me lately that I’ve done my job – that he is raised. I don’t tell him, but I whisper to God now that while maybe all the lessons I have to teach him have been taught, there are surely so many more that only a Father in Heaven can teach him. My job now, I believe, is not to interfere with those lessons.
So I am sad. Not because my son is fully who he should be at seventeen. Not because he’s too busy to spend much time with me. Not because we are looking at colleges. I’m sad because I know how to be a Mom, and now there is no one to mother. No one needs me on a day to day basis and while I guess some people would be overjoyed at the idea of the freedom that may mean, it shatters my heart into countless little pieces.
I like family. I like turning off the TV and having dinner together. I like birthdays and holidays and all the big moments, but as much as, or maybe even more than those, I like the little, unexpected moments. The times when your kids laugh so hard it fills up the whole house, and the times when all they want in the world is just you.
Yeah. Tears. Lots and lots of them. I know I won’t cry forever. I know I’ll find my own wings now and I’ll head out into this world by myself to see what’s next for me alone. But I know this for sure…
Nothing I ever do or see will compare to the joy of being someone’s Mother, and nothing I ever hear will be as beautiful to me as the noise of a family.
I love you son. I’m proud of you. Always.