skrt skrt

skrt skrt

My son turns 18 tomorrow, which should be a cause for celebration, right? Why then, am I so shattered with melancholy? I think it’s because (as my youngest) I know that the delicious chaos of the ‘kid years’ is behind me and that I am steadily moving from a primary to peripheral role in his life. I never pictured myself as the broody empty-nester – me, who was literally half a world away from my home when I turned 18 – but I guess now I realize how it must have felt for my Mom to watch me walk away through airport security to fly off to South Africa for a year. And, I guess this Mom wants to hug that Mom and tell her thanks for only letting me see the happy, excited face above that wave goodbye. I’m afraid I have a terrible poker face.


skrt skrt

On the third call he hears me
The push of my voice finally inescapable
Huh?
An eyebrow lift from me
An eye roll from him
But then, sheepish acquiescence
Pardon?
Clear instruction outlined: short commands, numbered steps﹘not too many, not too complicated﹘just enough to instill some level of accountability
It doesn’t matter really; success past step 2 is doubtful, laughably ambitious really

At the third reminder he stirs
Unpeeling his lanky limbs from their position hanging over the arms of the chair, the dents fossilized as permanent reminders of his adolescent nonchalance
He lurches, lumbers
Inactivity stiffening his perfectly functioning joints
One hand expertly cradles the phone
Both eyes and ears mainlined to the feed
But, Huzzah!
He’s off on the task!
Teetering away with an off-balance stumble
As if he can’t support his own body
As if his legs and arms have newly sprung from their sockets and came without instruction
Steps 2 thru 4 further lost with each step

+++++++

A flurry of aggressive movements swish past my nose, my ears, my kidneys
Choreographed for total destruction and voiced-over for maximum impact
Straight leg kick, bam
Roundhouse, hi-ya
Elbow smash, tcha
Uppercut, crack
Combination, tssss, tssss, tssss
Leg sweep, whoa
Hissing sound effects land each blow in slow-motion perfection
How many mothers across time have suffered this imaginary beating?
What wounds we absorb to build up our young

Don’t give up your back Mom
If you walked into this knee I would end you
Check it out…rear naked choke, are you tapping out?

His eyes light up when I give in and pretend to fight back
Showing off his sinewy muscles and gathering strength, he picks me up and spins me around
until I eventually pretend it hurts and tell him to put me down
Now he’s juiced up, victorious, looking for fresh prey
Luckily his sister eludes the pulsing testosterone sneak attack

+++++++

Small moments chisel my heart:
the tangle of his arms hanging on my shoulders,
one cocky elbow resting on my head,
the burst of laughter spilling out,
the harmless prickle of his newly sprouted stubble,
the slightly sweaty feel of his skin,
the jaunty smell of deodorant,
the keen brown pools of his eyes,
the way he rises to defend me,
the way he doesn’t rise to his father’s daily litany of imagined faults,
the way his eyebrows rise to deliver an unfinished thought,
the endless facts about Ultimate Fighting heroes,
the endless pots of Kraft Dinner boiling on the stove,
the meticulous application of ‘face juice’ on his hormone-shattered chin,
the dorky moves that no dance floor has seen yet
the fabulously self-centered, messy glow of youth.

Oh sad leaky brain please don’t ever let me forget the feel of my boy in my arms
Like holding my heart outside my body
How do people survive it?
Go. Quickly.
I cannot bear the weight of your wings
I am just a Mom, after all
Tapping out