Luca just turned fifteen. He spent his birthday at boarding school. Franny and I called to wish him Happy Birthday. He seemed in good spirits and was excited about his outing to a water park. Also, he was the recipient of a lot of desserts. I will see him later this week when I fly out for a parent workshop.
It’s a camping workshop. There are no showers at the camp site, which is unsettling for Luca and me since we are both fussy types. This may be the last workshop I attend because Prince is considering bringing him home in September. He was accepted at a private school where we live. I only know this because Luca’s therapist told me.
It’s surreal, this hands-off, mothering-at-a-distance. Sometimes, when the distance feels overpowering and my time as Luca’s hands-on mother seems like a dream, I look at some old pictures.
I remember what it was like to smell his infant skin.
To hold him on my lap.
To feel his little hand clutching mine.
I remember his phases. Amphibians.
The electric guitar.
The stunt bike.
Did I mention the waveboard?
Remote control cars.
But the moments I remember most of all are less the doing, and more the being. The physicality that is the crux of parenting young children, the moments of touch that slip away, almost unnoticed, over the years. I squint slightly, trying to seize hold of a memory, like chasing down a butterfly.
And when I remember these moments through the years, there is a complex blend of feeling that comes along with the remembering. Something like wonder, at the directions life spins us in. Some grief, for what is lost, what never got to be. Some gratitude, for making it out alive, for what’s to come. Some peace, for where we are today.
Happy Fifteenth Birthday, Luca.
Jennifer McBride says
What a wonderful tribute to Luca. And you’re absolutely right about time slipping away, especially when the kids aren’t underfoot all the time. When my older son turned 16 and got his license, I had the distinct sense that my primary parenting opportunities were over. Now he could go off on his own, to a job or a friend’s house or school, and I wouldn’t be right next to him, seeing the world at the same time he does. That’s got to be hundred-fold for you.
Parenting from afar and not having the kids with us only speeds up that process and enhances that feeling of melancholy for the sweaty napping foreheads after a long day of playing or the giggles or even the tears.
Thank you for sharing this post!
Gabi Coatsworth says
Thanks. I wake up every day and think, another day and both my kids are still alive!
This is beautiful and so heartbreaking. I wish for more moments, renewed, for you and your son.
Lisa Thomson says
A beautiful tribute to not only Luca’s birthday but motherhood. It is fleeting and with every one of our children’s birthdays we are reminded of this fact. No more little boy, just a young man or a big boy depending on your point of view. You are right in looking at what is to come not just what has passed. Happy Days to you both.
I couldn’t finish reading without a tissue. Well done!
**Snort** well, hopefully they will have some of those hanging water jugs, you can at least splash water on your face! I don’t mind getting grimy while camping, but it’s nice to be able to rinse off before trying to sleep (it’s the height of luxury that my horse trailer has a toilet & (human) shower!)
Getting ready for my annual NM pilgrimage; I CAN HARDLY WAIT TO HIT THE OPEN ROAD!!!
& of course this is a beautiful reminiscense… I can relate, feeling as if I’ve missed out on great bleeding chunks of MY 14-yr old’s childhood…
You take a pilgrimage to New Mexico? Is it a spiritual trek? That sounds pretty great.
You captured the feelings of early childhood perfectly. Two of my teenagers celebrated birthdays recently and I was drowning in the memory of how physical parenting used to be, what I thought I’d never forget has grown very dim as they’ve gotten older. Gretchen Rubin’s saying runs through my head on a loop: “The days are long, but the years are short.”
Cuckoo Momma says
BEautiful! Happy Birthday Luca!
Matt Steiner says
Happy birthday to Luca; and jointly, happy 15th anniversary of being a mom.
Those last two photos really struck me. I have a few of my own. Thank you for this post.