How can it be?
It seems like only a few years ago, that I was packing my diaper bag to go out for the day. City life with children is fun. Each day can be like packing for a weekend trip, but I loved it. Tiny clothes, teeny socks and itsy bitsy toys for him to hold in those lovely fingers that curled around whatever was put within them. Each day we packed up and set off on our adventures. Grocery shopping? Sure, we could buy whatever fit beneath the massive Peg Perego Milano carriage in the basket. Post Office? Sure! We had lots of bills and other various sorts of business to get into the snail mail system. No email in those days. We were a team; nothing kept us from our daily grind. When we were done, we would make our way to Barnes and Noble; me to enjoy the quiet with a cup of coffee and a biscotti, and him, to enjoy his bottle and take his nap.
Those days did not last long. In my mind, they are on an endless loop, but it doesn’t take long before the sturdy leg muscles of an infant make them want to stand up and then ultimately run, making the peace of the infant a distant memory. I was not like most moms. I never complained when my kids woke me up in the dark of night. I enjoyed the peace; I enjoyed the singular power that I had to transform that crying baby into a warm, sleeping, baby powder scented baby that readily accepted whatever love and warmth I was prepared to offer. I miss those days. I greedily enjoyed them with each of my three children, and I remember the peace. I was uninvolved with the outside world, if only for those few moments when I shared that need to love, and that need to be loved with my infant.
Times have changed. My oldest child now lives at University. He has a “Springsteen-like” patch of beard under his chin, and a few earrings. Girls strain their necks to try to catch his eye wherever we go. I am sure they think he is hot.
He is a good kid. He opens doors, and helps his grandmother and me by taking her to doctor appointments. He is a good student, and is learning to become more responsible with money. But over the years, he has developed a fiercely independent spirit. I know that I am to blame for that. I know that blame may not be the correct word, but it FEELS like the right word. There is a girlfriend in the picture. BFF, you have heard the stories. She seems to have big plans for my son. MY SON. She casually speaks of baby carriages, and diamond rings. MY SON is not old enough. He just stopped sleeping with his Ernie doll a couple of years ago.
That Ernie doll has its own box of supplies. I have replaced so many pieces, and have redrawn the eyes so many times with a Sharpie pen, that it would beg the modern philosopher to ask when does the original Ernie cease to be the same Ernie, and not a new Ernie altogether? When do the new parts become so much a part of the whole, that they are no longer new parts? When do the new parts become a part of the old, rendering it just plain old Ernie? That box has remained hidden over the years, and I sit here crying over the fact that I can probably dispose of that box. Although Ernie has gone to University with him, the worn fabric and faded face are to remain in his hardly opened suitcase. Poor Ernie. It is no longer necessary to replace the tattered pieces or love worn spots.
Today, there is a girlfriend who has taken that place by his side. I am sure that I should be relieved that she is a nice girl, from a nice family. He doesn’t sleep around, and he isn’t hanging around bars. He is hanging around the same girl for over a year. This is a very long time for someone who cannot commit to many things. I fear that this girl is going to be around for some time to come. Now, as someone who is twice divorced, and who has made her mistakes, I ask myself if I am in a position to offer an opinion. Do I have a right to feel as though my years of experience somehow make me more qualified to judge what is right, and what is wrong for him?
Maybe he has that skill that I lack. Maybe he has the luxury of choosing without worrying what anyone else will think of his decision, knowing, that I will love him and accept him, because that is a promise that I openly made to my children long ago. If you are in love, and that person is good to you, I will love them, no matter what.
Maybe I had to separate my earnest jealously of the obvious love that passes between their eyes when they look at each other. Maybe I had to be honest with myself, that I am indeed jealous of not only the love, but the endless opportunity that lies before both of them. Does that make me a bad person, or worse, a bad mother? As if I needed more thoughts to wrestle with, I wrestle with these ideas, and the outright possibility that being honest with myself is sometimes a very difficult thing to do. I want all my decisions to be in the best interest of my children, because I love them. But just this once, I had to admit to myself, that what is best for Mr Twenty, is not the emotionally best decision for me. I am jealous.
I welcome her into my home. He is happy. He loves me for texting her to ask them to dinner. Love. Love and Acceptance. Acceptance of her. Love of him. Acceptance of myself. Possibly even love of myself? I’ll work on that one.