My Greatest Joy
It has been my greatest adventure. It has also been my greatest learning experience.
I did not have a close relationship with my Mom growing up. The mother-daughter activities that most of my friends got to do with their Moms never happened with us. So when my son was born, I swore that I would do it differently. I would be more engaged, more connected, more loving.
And for the most part, I have been. I have also been impatient, a bit of a control freak, and occasionally rigid. I’m not proud of this, but it is the truth. I remember one morning when my son was three I was rushing to get to work. I had gotten him ready and he was happily playing with his dinosaurs on the floor while I was running around like a crazy lady making sure I had everything packed for his daycare and my work. I asked him several times to put the dinosaurs away and get his shoes on. He was in his own little world and slowly…so very slowly…began putting the dinosaurs in their bucket. Finally I yelled, “GET YOUR SHOES ON!” He stood in front of me with a dinosaur clutched in each hand, tears welling in his eyes, and defiantly said, “NO, Mama”. Looking at my brave little boy I was struck by moment of clarity. How would I like it if I was doing something I loved to do and someone began yelling at me to do their bidding? I’d be angry too! Just because he was small didn’t mean he was any less a person. From that day on, any time we would leave or change what we were doing, I’d give him a 5-3-1 minute warning. We never had trouble getting out of the house again.
I was definitely not the Mom that made homemade cookies and Hallowe’en costumes, but I sure was the Mom that got on the floor and played with rubber lizards and dinosaurs and watched The Land Before Time a million times.
For the first six years it was just the two of us. As a single working Mom with no family nearby there were countless times I was deliriously tired, frustrated, and it took everything in me to get through the day and tuck him in his bed at night with a story and a snuggle. I was so lucky to have a generous and loving group of friends, four of whom had sons the same year I had mine! So there were lots of playdates for the boys and cups of tea and talk therapy for the Moms.
In the early years, my son taught me to be more adaptable, to let go of the schedule and be in the moment. That simple pleasures are often the best. And that I could actually survive on very little sleep!
When our children are young it feels like it will last forever. But the years pass, they grow, become resilient and independent. They develop into young adults with lives of their own and a need to break free to discover who they are and how they want to be in the world. This is exactly as it should be.
My son has just finished his second year of University. He is a young man. While I will always be his Mom, my relationship “mothering” him is done.
I miss the little boy who called me Mama. I miss our annual zoo trips, going to the park, and reading stories before bed. I miss how our biggest discussions always happened in the car. I miss the twelve years of sitting in gyms watching him play basketball and being his biggest cheerleader. But what I’ve come to realize is that we are creating a different relationship. One that is more mentoring in nature. I look forward to see how that evolves for us.
So with each Mother’s Day, I send love and gratitude to my son for being my greatest teacher and my greatest joy.