My son JCH is turning eleven. By the time you read this, he will BE 11! By the time you finish reading this, he will be a whole lot closer to twelve. My son, JCH is no longer my BABY. He is now an official pre-teen complete with all of those damn raging hormones. I don’t know why his birthday this year is making me so emotional. Maybe it’s because it coincides so closely with mother’s day, which is also the day that marks the one-year anniversary of the passing of my grandmother Manga. Either way, as I sit here today, reflecting upon the last 11 years of my life as a mother, and how much my son has grown, I am flooded with so many memories and feelings.
With some resistance, and a lot of practice, I have come to accept the fact that he needs me less and less. I have sort-of come to accept the fact that he wants to be around me less and less. But it is still really hard to let go; I am so.not. prepared. for the road ahead.
As cliche as this sounds, it really does seem just like yesterday that JCH was only a baby. He was born on May 10th, at 11:15am; weighing in at a healthy 9 pounds 14 oz, and 21 inches long. I remember the very first time I held him in my arms and sang happy birthday to him. I was scared to death. I had no child rearing experiences. I didn’t read any of the books you are supposed to read while pregnant; I had never even babysat for another child before my son’s arrival. When I looked at this brand new person (the one who had been kicking me all those months) everything was suddenly so incredibly terrifying.
I don’t know what it is that happens to you, or how it happens to you, I cannot explain it. But from the moment I became a parent, I instinctively knew what to do. When he was an infant, JCH was constantly sick, he suffered from very severe stomach and ear issues, which lasted the entire first year of his life. Yet, I never panicked. I just knew what to do. When the doctors didn’t listen to me, I knew what to do. When he cried, I knew what he needed and I soothed him. When he was hurt, I had those magical mommy powers where a simple kiss could make everything better.
Now that he is a lot older, I don’t have quite the same magical powers as I used to. He doesn’t need me to be the Tooth Fairy, or Santa Clause. He doesn’t want me to kiss things anymore. There is no way I can hold his hand in public. I think we are done with hugs and on to straight up high fives for awhile. I know it is my job as a parent to prepare my son for the world ahead of him, and to teach him responsibility, accountability and independence. But I miss it sometimes. I miss when my son, was just my baby.
[I wrote about 75 pages full of memories, (which I have saved for myself) but rather then drag you through all of that, I will just bring you three memories]
1. My son had his own pronunciation of words. Instead of saying “again” he used to say “ooooo-gaaaaaine.”That still makes me smile.
2. When JCH was all of three years old, he used to tell me that he could, “see who people were.” When I asked, “What does that mean?” He explained to me that, “some people had pure hearts and other people had X’s on their hearts” he could tell which kind of heart someone had just by looking at them. He used to tell me who had an X on their heart in the grocery store, in the mall, in line at the bank.
This ability to see X’s on people’s hearts led us to having one of the all time most evil imaginary friend problem. Jackrafire was his name. Jackrafire came from a blue plan-ick (not planet, plan-ick) and definitely had an X on his heart. Jackrafire gave my son the worst nightmares. As much as I loved him climbing into bed with me every now and again, every night for two months in a row was more than I could handle. After not sleeping well, (surprisingly a three year old can really hog a bed) I finally decided that this Jackrafire character had to be destroyed. One day, I asked JCH to help me make a magic potion would send Jackrafire back to his blue planick. We spent 45 minutes in the kitchen adding any and everything to the industrial sized blender and then hit puree. I poured the ‘potion’ (which smelled mostly of Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco) into the same milk glass we used for Santa and his cookies. I left the glass out on the counter just like we would for Santa. I told JCH to go to bed and when Jackrafire came to our house that night he would be lured by the aroma to the potion, drink it, and die. Having heard one too many Jackrafire stories, I knew exactly what the imaginary xheart having freak looked like. I stayed up half the night making a Jackrafire costume, only to cut it up so it would look like it melted the same way the Wicked Witch of the West came to her demise. In the morning my son awoke to a finished off Jackrafire. “Mommy, it worked you got rid of him! Look he’s all melted!” Yep. I am the evil imaginary foe killer of all times. We never heard from him again.
3. When JCH was about 4 years old he went to take a walk in the woods with “Poppa Uh” (my father…long story don’t ask.) My parents live on a golf course so there are all these wonderful trails, perfect for a nature walk. The two of them used to take adventures in the woods and hunted for golf balls. One part of the trail had a slope that led to a pond. That was a known hot spot for golf balls being hit out of bounds. My father told JCH to stay at the top of the hill and wait for him to return. But JCH hated being left alone. So, he followed Poppa-Uh. Only as JCH was walking down the hill, he was going too fast. So fast that he couldn’t stop. He ran right down the hill and into the pond. And landed smack in the mud. But this wasn’t regular mud. Oh no. JCH thought that he was trapped in quick sand, that was going to swallow him up. For real. Finally my father made it over to him to help pull him out, but it was too late JCH was so hysterical from kicking so hard and staying stuck in the mud.
I will never forget exactly what he looked like when my son reappeared from the woods, sobbing, covered in mud, with one sock half off and slapping the grass, and the other foot was bare. He ran towards me screaming about how he almost just died. “Mommy, (sniff sniff) hold me, (sniff sniff ) I’m soo cold, (sniff) and I almost….died (sniff sniff sniff) in quicksand. Look, the quick sand ate my shoes, and this sock…”
Now I know my son doesn’t ‘need me’ any more like he used to. In truth, I will never have another child. I could never go back to the car seats and the strollers and the 84 hours it takes to pack one diaper bag, to get in the car, to go to the store, for one gallon of milk. Now I can throw on shoes and go by myself. The tantrums and ‘dark time out’. All the damn diapers, the baby wipes and formula. The pacifier, or loosing the g-ddamned pacifier. The eventual potty training. Teething! Colic! Teething and Colic at the same time. The really high fevers. The eye surgery. The yelling, the crying, the screaming…. (Oh wait that part was just me.) I would not do it all over again, not even for million dollars and not even with a live in nanny, but I wouldn’t trade any of those memories for all the money in the world either.
So yeah, you caught me, I love my son. I hate letting him go, but I can’t wait to see what will happen next!!
Happy Eleventh Birthday.
This is such a mixture of bitter and sweet. This is a time of reflection for me. I am so grateful for the day you came into this world, just as if it were yesterday. Even though I mourn over so much of the time we have missed, when were apart for that time. I am glad the blocks and blues clues are gone, but I miss the superheroes and fingerprints on my windows.
You are at the beginning stages of becoming a man. I wonder if you are unsure of what leaving behind your boyhood will be? I wonder if you are excited for what lies ahead? I wonder about all that too. I am on that same line with you, I am missing your younger years, but I feel so lucky to be witness to the young man who stands before me and is everything I had ever hoped for.
Your love overwhelms me. Your incredible sense of humour can fix a bad day (“our pets heads are falling off”) and I find joy in the sound of your laughter.
I never deserved you, but I thank G-d for you every day. I am not only a lucky mommy, but I am a better person for knowing you. I know your life has not always been easy (with me) but through your strong spirit, you have overcome and achieved. To say I am proud of you, would be an understatement. I am speechless, by how good you are to me. I am honored to call you my son and friend.
I hope all your dreams will become realities, and I hope to be there to see them all come true. Don’t be afraid to dream big, remember to laugh often, and love with passion.
But, if you ever fall into the mud, or run into another Jackrafire, you can always come back to me oooogaaaaine.
I love you. Mommy.
PS…OH yeah, after all of my ‘my son is not my baby, my son doesn’t need me anymore’ emotional rollercoaster of a day, guess who fell down and go boom? On his face! On concrete! In school! Splitting his chin? The school nurse called me at work frantic! And guess who needed his mom! To take him to the doctors! For stitches!
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