Touchstones of Motherhood

I have a fifteen-year-old son. He left a voicemail for me the other day and his voice sounded like a man’s. He has hair all over his legs. He’s taller than I am. There’s a shadow on his upper lip. Sometimes, my heart feels like it’s literally breaking when I look at him. This precious, malleable child is too quickly becoming his own person, an adult person.

He doesn’t need me anymore like he used to. For many years, I was THE SOURCE – for love, shelter, food, clothing, entertainment, education. I had it all and I lavished it all upon him.

Now he does his own laundry, makes his own meals, has friends with whom he texts CONSTANTLY. There was even another girl in the picture a couple years ago. I’m just Mom. I’m that lady who drives him to the doctor’s office, nags him to wear his bands on his braces, and makes sure there are enough chicken nuggets and fries in the freezer to sustain him through a nuclear winter.

This morning, he woke me at 2:30 – “Mom – I’ve thrown up three times in the last hour.” I followed him back to his room, grabbed the thermometer on the way, and knelt beside his bed. I asked him about his symptoms, poured some ginger ale for him, and stayed nearby.

His radio was on, and I said, “It sounds like a rock concert in here.”

“No, it has to be that loud or I can’t hear it with the covers over my head,” he told me.

“Well, all I can say is the music when I was fifteen is a lot better than the music you hear now,” I told him, tongue in cheek. We’ve had this discussion many times before.

We quietly discussed the merits of Duran Duran vs. Muse, U2 vs. Coldplay, Adam Ant vs. Kanye West. And good ol’ Eminem. Not versus anyone, just as an artist alone.

I was very tired, but once again, my son needed me as he used to. I wasn’t going anywhere.

Eventually, he made one more trip to the bathroom, got the last bit out of his system, and I tucked him. I said goodnight and went back to bed.

He may never get sick again before he leaves the house and lives on his own. The whole family is relatively healthy, and we rarely get sick like that. He might, though, and if he does, I’ll savor those early morning moments when I’m his whole world again. Because it helps to soothe that fissuring heart within me. And because my son will always be my little baby boy to me, even when he is no longer a boy.

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Cari McGee

My full name is Carol Marie McGann McGee. Most people just call me Cari. But, I answer to Pumpkin (my mom calls me that), Carol Love (from my brothers), Love (what my husband calls me), McGee (many of my real estate colleagues call me that) and, my favorite title, Mom.I love to read, run, and sell real estate. And laugh. I really love to laugh.

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