This post is part of a group assignment from our community managers. We were given a topic and one hour to write, edit and post. Though this is the 11th installment of what is known as "Blogapalooz-Hour" it is the first time I've participated. The directions were simple - "Write about a person, place or thing that you miss". For me, there is only one answer, but how can I possibly express it? Dare I give voice to the parts of me I hold closest? Writing is about laying our soul's bare for the world to see. This is as bare as I can possibly get.
I miss me. The old me, the one who was a mom. I miss her because I am no longer her, I am no longer a mom.
Of course I miss my son most of all, not just the person he was but who he never had a chance to become. He was only 21. On the cusp of becoming. But, saying that threatens to minimize who he was, who he had become and all he managed to do in his short life. His greatest accomplishment may have been simply existing. In doing that one thing, he made me a better person. I know he did the same for so many others and while that gives me great comfort it also contains it's own pain.
How many more people would have become their better selves had they only had the chance to know him? To experience his infectious laugh? To see that inimical smile only those closest to him understood?
When our babies are born, so are we as mothers. We look into that precious face with wonder, joy and if we’re honest, more than a little terror. Who we are, who we thought we’d be, even while our bellies grew to previously unimaginable proportions is suddenly gone. No matter how well we think we’re prepared, there is no way to predict, to understand, to even begin to guess at the depth and breadth of feelings that overwhelm us in the moment we meet, each gazing with awe at the other.
This is our child, our first born. Others may have experienced this miracle more than once, but I can’t imagine that moment contains as much profound change as did the arrival of their first. In that one, singular moment, all we are is encapsulated in that tiny fist.
Over the next hours, days, months and years, we continue to envision and define ourselves by this role called motherhood. On days when our darling tempts us to pull out our hair and in those moments we long for the sweet smell that can only be described as baby, we think ahead to what it will be like to hold the child of our child.
On the hair tearing days, that thought sometimes comes out more like a curse, “Someday you’ll understand what it is to be a parent”. On those others, best described as wistful, we wonder if we’ll feel the obvious transcendent joy we witnessed on the faces of our parents when they were presented with their first grandchild.
I miss not only the reality of motherhood but the future of being a mom to an adult child. I count myself lucky that I did get to experience it, at least a little. Afterall, he was 21, a man grown. In the Army. Fighting a war, experiencing things I can still only imagine.
When he was small I reveled in seeing the world anew through his eyes. A mailbox on the corner was as interesting and wonderous as a blade of uncut grass grown tall enough to sprout a tassle. I cherish the few things I got to see through his newly adult eyes, things my old lady glasses blurred. The intensity of the color of music, something I’d forgotten to see and which I’ve lost sight of since I lost his eyes. I remember it hazily, but I’ve come to accept I will probably never feel the electric, dazzling hues of music shared with my son.
There are other future sights that I gazed towards that his 21 year old eyes could not yet focus on. The idea of purchasing a home, the still distant and very foggy shape of a family which he’d call his own. I teased him often that if there was a God, he’d end up with red headed children, no matter if his bride was brunette or flaxen haired. Having a red headed grandchild was something I hoped for, as did he even if he was loathe to admit it to me. He pretended to tease me about being a ginger and not having a soul, but he told his friends proudly he was the son of a red headed woman as a way to explain his wicked and warped sense of humor.
I miss the laughter that can only be shared between a mother and a child. I remember as clearly as if it were captured in high definition video the first time I witnessed my then 14 month old laughing uproariously at a cartoon. It happened to be my one of my father’s favorite, Road Runner. I was over the moon at the realization that my child was channeling my father who died when that baby was only six months old.
Laughter was as much a constant in our lives as was music. I miss the deep, warming joy of those laughs over the silly, the strange, the macabre and the inside jokes that only he and I thought were funny. I still tell the one joke about penguins which still makes me laugh, but not as hard as I did when retelling it for the umpteenth time made him literally groan. He would throw back his head and pretend exasperation, or not pretend so much, as I drove him crazy with that silly, stupid joke. Invariably, I laughed so hard, I would be stuttering and sputtering long before I got to the non-punch line, something that always caused that special, secret smile he reserved for me alone.
Every day, the first thought when I wake and the last thought before I sleep is the same. I used to be a mom. I used to breathe because I had a son. He was the reason for my being, the creator of the best parts of who I was. I miss me, the me I used to be when I had a son, when I was a mom. Almost as much as I miss my son.
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