My pushing 6′ tall little guy. I barely 22 when my first-born son came into the world. As I raised him, I was still raising myself in a manner of speaking. Though being a mom didn’t make me “grow up”, it instilled me with a greater level of patience and compassion. It taught me what it means to look someone square in the eye and tell them, “There’s nothing you can tell me or do that will stop me from loving and wanting the best for you,” and mean it with every fiber of your being.
I didn’t have many “plans” for him. I didn’t look at his big feet or hands and think that he would be a football player or, think that he’d inherit my thirst for knowledge and be a writer or a scientist. I just wanted this kid. I wanted the squirmy guy with the too-serious-for-an-infant face to be happy, decent and not grow up too fast. And for the most part, with a little coaching from me, God and the universe provided. I’ve got a kid who is happy, decent, with a measure of innocence and a too-serious-for-a-14-year-old face. But you totally forget his seriousness when he smiles. He has this smile that tells you that all the screwed up stuff that goes on in the world hasn’t gotten to him yet. In this world, that’s enviable in someone even as young as 14.
I’m not a “traditional” mom. My tactic has truly been to stay out of their way as much as possible. Guide when necessary, but then let them go. I periodically joke with my kids about drawing the mom short straw, and asked him if he wanted me to be more of the “milk-and-cookies” type. His response was something like:
“I wish you didn’t have to work so much, but those kinds of moms are a little annoying. I love going by Ronnie’s house because I like his mom. She cusses and yells and stuff, but she’s still like…a good mom without being weird. But she doesn’t let us act too crazy either. Ronnie’s mom is awesome. You and Ronnie’s mom are just alike. Like EXACTLY alike. Yall are the only two moms I know like that.”
Let me tell you one of the dopest fucking things your kids can ever tell you in life: That the place they like to hang out is their favorite, because it has a person like you there. I couldn’t cry in front of him, because he’d think I was a weirdo, but I’m crying now, because for all of my flaws, one of the people who counts on me more than anything thinks I’m awesome. That counts for a lot. My kids and I have this symbiotic awesome and it makes me feel lucky, because for all the hard times, being their mom has given me a better life than I probably deserve.
It’s hard for me not to write this with a somber heart. Last Friday, 20 babies in Connecticut were robbed of the opportunity to hold on to the innocence I pray my children keep for as long as possible. Their last few moments of their little lives were spent knowing just how cruel the world can be. The idea of any parent sitting at a computer, writing about their six year-old in memory only rips me in half. I’m going to go home and hug my kids a little tighter again. We’ll pray for those families to be strengthened and pray for another year of love and cleaving to as much innocence as this world allows.