Childhood Lost

Oh.. that face I love. It still gets me—every time. All those years locked behind the blue eyes and long lashes. Years I can see and remember. Years that he wishes I would forget. But I can’t. I can’t. And that’s why it hurts.. because I have to let go.. and pretend the years don’t matter.. at least for now.

He’s a teenager full of angst and questions. Rebellion and hormones. He stumbles and pushes. Softens and stiffens. I’ve been through this a few times before but still struggle to make sense of it. I could be an award-winning actress.. my heart is on my sleeve, outside my body, vulnerable and aching. But I’m the only one who knows it. And he doesn’t care. Not really.

He can’t. He’s individuating. And I care more than ever. The paradox is strangling, devoid of any sense. But there it is—yet again. The dichotomy that is adolescence—one moment everything he was as a child, the next, someone I’ve never met. And I am expected to be the adult—in control, solid, ready with a firm hand and a loving heart. I am tangled and torn, weary and raw. My love for this child is swallowing me up. And the irony is I can’t allow that. I must individuate, too.. if I want to keep him in my life.

I don’t like this. The older I get.. the more I know what’s at stake for him. But he gets to choose. And I get to watch.

Only, it occurs to me, yet again, that watching isn’t all I must do. I have to continue to live, work, play and grow.. no matter how much his decisions and developing attitudes worry me. I cannot afford to succumb to paralyzing fear. I’ve given into this before and I know it’s not the answer.

Peace.. the only real peace, comes from pursuing my own life–fully, and without reservation. The years of child bearing are over.. and the few years left of child rearing are fading fast. My life waits.. while I grieve over lost childhood that is rightfully over.. but painfully gone. The future calls to both of us. Oh, how I want his to be happy.. but I can’t make it for him.

He is not that child anymore—he is a young man.. and while finding his own way, makes some good decisions along with the shaky ones. He is smarter than I stop to think he is. My first instinct is to question him. I need to stop this. At least most of it. He gets to choose. He gets to choose. He will make decisions I won’t be happy with. That is certain.

So.. maybe, even though his childhood is lost to me, for good.. my future and his, are found. I just have to let it be whatever it’s going to be for him.. and be around to help with any rubble he might want me to assist with.

Oh.. the letting go is like extracting my heart and throwing it onto a soccer field.. and letting it be booted around until he decides to kick it into the net. It’s the passing from one set of cleats to another that knocks the fight out of me. Where will it end up today? Can’t we just land somewhere?

No. Not yet. It’s not time. And besides.. part of what I have to do is find a way for my heart to be more of a spectator than a participant. That freakishly unbreakable mother-love is always there. And while he grows into whoever he’s going to become, I have to do the same.

Childhood lost—both of our futures found. But oh.. the ache, the longing, the worry.. and yes, the hope. Always the hope.

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Wednesday Gravy: Olympic Passion

When my first born was a wee pup, crawling all over me as I watched Nadia Comaneci score perfect 10s in the Montreal Summer Olympics.. the onscreen drama must have seeped over into my psyche which I promptly conveyed to my baby via osmosis. Or something like that.  He’s been an Olympics lover ever since.  He says one of his fondest childhood memories was me dragging him and his sister out of bed to watch the spectacular televised closing ceremonies at the 1984 Los Angeles event.

We speak of the Olympics often. We talk about the athletes, he and I. We muse on performances past, and wonder about future achievements.  During each Olympics, we have one “all-nighter”..  an evening for staying up ridiculously late and eating large amounts of naughty food.. all while watching the athletic competition unfold.  Of course, we toss out phrases like, “I could do that, but I don’t wanna.”

Last summer, the boy and I, not to mention other family members.. enjoyed our fete while watching Michael Phelps win that spectacular race in a gazillionth of a second.  It was a crowning moment in the games made even more extraordinary by all of us experiencing it together.

A few months ago I was missing my boy as mommies sometimes do–even, maybe especially, as they get older.  He’s a husband and father.. and well, he’s actively involved in everything inherent in that busy life.  I asked him for a favor.  I asked if some time, whenever he and his family could manage it, if he could come and spend the day with me.  Just him.  Not that I don’t adore his wife and babies—-I do.  But, I needed some boy time.  Just me and him.

He called a few weeks ago saying that he was working on it and would let me know.  That was good enough for me.

Last Saturday, on a whim, the boy and his family came to visit.  These kinds of visits bring palpable pleasure.

During casual conversation, he mentioned he’d  like to plan our one-on-one day.. but that it wouldn’t happen until February 2010.  Well.. he’s got stuff going on.. I’ll take it, I thought.

Then, he told me the rest of it.  I needed to provide the transportation, he said.. and he’d supply the tickets.  Tickets? What?

Turns out our mommy-son get-together will be to an Olympic hockey game at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games.  Just the two of us.

The revelation dawned.. and I’ll admit my emotions grabbed me by the throat.  Not only did he pencil in a day for me.. he decided to make it something once-in-a-lifetime special.

He warned: “Now, of course, we can’t depend on it being anything spectacular..  It probably won’t be another “Miracle On Ice” moment.”

My response?  Doesn’t matter if it’s Czechoslovakia vs. Tasmania. How could it not be spectacular?  It’s the Olympic Games.

We’ll drive or catch a shuttle over the border.. we’ll employ air horns and foam fingers.. we’ll have a real, live, Olympic adventure together.  No words illustrate this joy, yet I’ve tried to use them.. and probably not very well.

Meanwhile, I wait for February 2010 and ponder the gift.. and what it will mean for us—for me and my boy.