I remember like it was yesterday--my sweet little boy crawled up into my lap for a sleepy snuggle. It was one of those great moments of motherhood, the payoff for all the crap that you put up with. Moms of boys know how much those snuggles mean.
We talked about lots of things, I don't remember what exactly, most likely going to the Zoo and maybe a little Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (this was before Minecraft and Pokemon took over his brain), but I do clearly remember one part of our conversation.
I want to stay little forever.He started to cry. I'll always want you around, Mama.
Well, you have to grow up. Someday you'll be too big for my lap, someday you won't even want to snuggle. You won't even want me around!
I explained, as gently as I could, that as he grows up, matures, a necessary distance will happen, to help him to find out who he is in the world. Someday, he wouldn't want to have snugglebunnies or hugs and kisses and he might even tell me he hates me--but that it's all part of the process.
I'll always want snugglebunnies.Well, I'll always be here to give them to you.I let him know that he's always have a place on my lap, even when he is six feet tall and outweighs me by fifty pounds--we'd find a way. Even when he moves away and gets married and has a family of his own. He'll always be my baby. Always.
I knew it was coming. And the day finally came--he admitted it. He no longer wants me around. My 12 year old is freaked out when he sees me at school, helping with the PTA, even though I'm not there to see him. Our silly interactions used to make him want me around but now make him want to run and hide when he sees me. His friends might say "Dude, your mom is cool" (I heard it with my own ears) but I still make him cringe.
I'm so torn. I'm happy he's growing up, becoming his own man. This is a big step for his independence, I know. But I wasn't ready for him to say it. Where he used to break out in spontaneous gigglefits over some little something he found amusing, now he breaks out in random mood swings now, and it's not something I can fix. He keeps secrets.
I made him go for a walk with me when he was in a particularly surly mood. That's when he told me, out in the fresh air when I pried his head out of his electronics. The fresh air helped us both focus, helped us both to understand the other's perspective just a little bit.
And as I watched him walk along beside me, out of the corner of his eye I could see him hitching his gait so our feet were in sync like he likes to do. But then when we got back in sight of the house, he ran ahead. Left me behind to catch up, putting distance between us.
Back in the living room, he set up on the floor reading comics, surly mood dissipated for now. My husband and I texted back and forth from the couch a few feet away. Is he okay? Yeah, just in a mood. Damn hormones. Ugh.
Logically, I know I have to let him go. But I made him promise to talk to me when he gets all emo and the colors hurt his eyes (That's our code. It made him laugh.). I encouraged him to write or draw in one of his zillion notebooks when he gets in those moods because if he didn't, and his surliness was left unchecked, I would have to intervene, possibly hugging him in public. I swear all the color drained from his face at the thought of it.
The horrible thing about kids growing up and getting independent is that it happens right around the time they turn into actual people you want to be around--not just little demanding kids who need a lot of work and you need a break from every now and then. Right at the point where you start to see a payoff for all that hard work you put into the process.
Later that night, the family was all together again in the living room, winding down from the day. He walked up to me quietly, cautious. Snugglebunnies? He asked.
Always, I replied.