His terrible twos lasted five years. Each morning I begged for new mercies, that today would be different. I loved him (though, admittedly, sometimes even that was hard) but liking him was Calvinball; he was the Gamesmaster, mercilessly changing the rules without warning.
We were mother and son, clash of the Titans. Nooobody and nothing I had read prepared me for this heart and soul tug-of-war.
He was determined and persistent, this pint-sized cowboy, and my goodness! those days were so long I thought they'd never end.
So, how did the y e a r s go by so fast?
* * * * * * *
Who can pinpoint when perspective changes, when a mind begins to see what the heart was shouting all along.
It was never about my son where I was concerned; it was about me.
The grit and grind that wore me down and nearly out was reshaping me into something else. It smoothed my selfishness. That relationship demanded that I be a better mother. Not in any quantitative sense–how can you say one mother is better than another? Absurd! I couldn't be complacent; I had to be intentioned. There was no status quo, phoning it in, parenting on autopilot.
This boy bent my knee low and left me with no other option but to seek wisdom and to pray without ceasing and to love the way I had been loved. Without condition or limit or logic.
Had I been the one who was most stubborn and foolish?
* * * * * *
Every mother and child is tethered by miracle. A mother's body is first fortress, incubator, life preserver…soul within soul, life within life.
On the inside and the out, her body earns telling scars. Giving birth is a violent thing, the blood letting, the pain, the transition from pitch darkness into blinding light, the agony of first breath, oxygen, new atmosphere.
The first letting go.
My God…they both have to let go for the first time at exactly the same time. This…this spills the tear! A piece of her heart has been rent from her body, never to return but always connected by invisible, indestructible, inexplicable thread.
This is when I get crazy in my head and imagine shaking every person I see and shouting DON'T YOU KNOW YOU'RE A MIRACLE?!
* * * * * *
Along the way, we changed, he and I. This one who is like me the most, and asks me How? I can't quite lasso the Why, but we are. I know it from the center of who I am…who he is.
We made a hard decision, our family, and it means for a while I let him go again. This, before the biggest letting go. Maybe it's to help me to get used to that one, maybe it's gift in disguise. I've always parented with an open hand, or at least that's what I've told myself. Sometimes that demands more than others.
Sometimes I long for a dance where I could still rest my chin on his head.
When the rest of our family returned to Germany, we let him stay behind to complete his senior year of high school, in its entirety, with his class. There was no best answer from our pile of choices; every one left our family fractured for the short-term. The big picture said this was right.
He lives large, this one. All of life is reason enough to celebrate, and for this one who makes me laugh at will, his own smiles come without effort.
I'm resigned to missing some of his First Lasts for a little while; thankfully not all of them.
He thrives among his friends, his oxygen. I love them, too, and they know it. I miss them, them together, their sounds. A mixture of laughter and ease and even the perverse (they are high school boys, after all.).
They require boundaries, and because they know it, they don't even mind.
* * * * * * *
I missed a First Only last night.
It is Homecoming Week and spirit paints his school's walls, halls and students every day in a different way. Last night was their annual Powderpuff game. Girls suit up and play football, the guys dress up and cheer. At halftime their mock Homecoming Court takes the field and a Queen and King are crowned.
I suppose this makes me the Queen Mother.