My firstborn turned 21 in July. I have an adult son. Every mother before me sagely advised: savour every moment, it goes so quickly. But they did not impart enough urgency. They may have been shellshocked, too, totally sideswiped by the sheer unfathomable speed of it. So here I am, marinating in the understatement. They should have shaken me out of my hunger for solitude, assured me that one day I would have so much of it that I would long for the days of little people claiming every square inch of my space. They should have shackled me to the foot of my children’s beds so I could measure every sprouted inch, count every breath and sigh, wipe every tear, hug, kiss and inhale just a bit longer.
But here we are.
They are grown and have lives of their own. I am still a constant though hardly the center I once was. And rightly so. Despite the irony, I congratulate myself for their confidence and independence. But I am noticing details of the past with a lot more nostalgia than before, even as I accept that this is life flowing as it should. Everywhere I turn there is a precious gift that makes me pause. The stories blossom from memory. I still see the little hands, such intense concentration, all the pre-screen crafting and the joy of giving their mama something they made themselves. I’m showing but a few of them. There are many more: drawings, paintings, notes, flowers nearly dead from the strength of their grip, jewelry made from Christmas ornaments, a few store bought items. I can’t put any of them away. They are testament to a quality of parental devotion that is naturally outgrown and so tenderly remembered.
When my eldest flew back to his new far away home, I decided to dispose of treasured books my boys have read, reread and outgrown. I told myself that other young children ought to enjoy them as much we did. It was more difficult than expected. Every book had a family story around how we found it, sometimes how it found us, how we hunted for others, the delight each tale brought into our home. Many are still on a folding table I had put up so I could sort, pile and sell more easily. But after one valiant morning of packing, giving away, selling and delivering, I find that I can do no more. There is only so much letting go a mother can do.
For now I am happy to see them near the window sorted, remembered, going nowhere.