Every Wednesday morning about 6am the garbage truck arrives to collect our rubbish. Like clockwork, aged 2 to 5, my son jumps out of his bed and runs full force into the bedroom, and into bed. He hides under the covers, cuddled up against me. He hates the sound of it and he finds comfort with his mum. These are the moments. I find it a little amusing and relish in our snuggles, until he outgrows his fear. I let go.
I spend endless years reading books and doing jigsaw puzzles with him. We search the library to try and satisfy his need for Paul Jennings. We go to an Andy Griffith’s book signing. He thinks I’m ace. We bake goodies and he asks me for yet another story. I spend years bowling to him in the back yard. These are the moments. Until he declares that I’m a lousy bowler, and his Dad does it so much better. That is actually true. I let go.
Aged 11, he skips happily away towards the bus. He’s off on school camp so excited to be with his friends. He missed out the year before. A broken collarbone. It’s like he suddenly remembers, turns around to me, smiling, and yells “see you Mum, I love you.” I say it back and with that he leaps up the stairs, sits next to his best mate and starts waving like mad out the window. These are the moments. He then becomes too cool for that. I let go.
Grade six graduation. The kids put on a concert. One of the songs they sing is Hall of Fame. This night was some 6 years ago and yet etched into my mind like it was yesterday. There he stands singing his heart out to the words “and the world’s gonna know your name.” He looks to me in the crowd. I know that look, it’s between a mother and her son. I don’t have to let go, he’s still doing that. These are the moments.
Aged nearly 13, he sits diligently at the kitchen bench as we work out this high school homework timetable. We talk time management strategies and how his day was. These are the moments. After a few months, he asks, “Mum can I go and study in my room from now on, the girls make too much noise?” Of course. I know that’s over too. He collects his belongings and wanders off. I let go. I still bring him cups of tea whilst he’s studying. He always says thanks. These are the new moments.
At 14, he has to do a massive hands-on project. He asks me to help him. He chooses a sustainable house and garden. I spent endless nights with him making clay bricks. We chatter the hours away. It takes a few months. He writes in his project notes saying we work well together. These are the moments. I feel sadness the day we carry it into school. I let go.
These next few years are hard. He disappears into the tunnel of adolescent boys. He barely talks, but grunts instead. He doesn’t want to be touched. He moves out of the way when I reach for him. He wants to spend most of his time in his room, or watching TV. Any kind of conversation is met with “huh”, “what”, “yeah”, “whatever”. I struggle. All I can see is my little boy, his curls and big brown eyes looking up me as he asks to be lifted. Still I let go. Every now and then I walk past him and reach my hand out to just touch him on the shoulders. Sometimes he lets me. These are the hard but new moments.
I look to engage him when he is open. Mostly whilst he is sitting on the back deck, taking a study break or eating food. I sit with him. We chat. We make each other cups of tea now. We talk psychology, physics, which I don’t understand, study pathways and he gives me his hilarious thoughts about religion from having to sit in chapel. He has a very dry sense of humor. We laugh a lot. We throw many weird ideas around on that back deck. It has become a bit of a sacred space, especially so in the warmer months. These are the moments. I had to let go to get to this. I am grateful.
A rare night out to dinner. My daughters are all away on various school trips. We eat a beautiful Vietnamese meal. I automatically think after we’ve finished eating he’ll want to go home. When you’re 17 it’s all about the food right? Turns out I’m wrong. He says, “let’s not leave yet Mum, let’s just stay here and talk.” My heart melts for the next hour and a half. I just appreciate this time with him. These are the new moments.
To now, when he is up on the school stage shaking the headmaster’s hand. He is a bright kid, motivated by wanting to succeed academically. He receives his award, and he looks into the audience to find me. I know he wants to know I am there, even though he knows I am attending. It’s a moment of eye contact and a knowing look. I’ve seen it for many years now, except it is now between a young man and his mother. Some moments never change.