Sunday, January 20, 2013
Tonight, it happened again, The Tearing. It happened again but it was nothing like the first time. Both were bittersweet. Both were unexpected. But in all other ways, they were nothing alike.
The first happened on a hot July night while wearing a one-size-fits-all hospital robe that still managed to barely cover my dairy-aire. I was breathing like a drowning man coming up to gasp air and seek a rescue. I was ready, but not thrilled, and frightened beyond my wildest imaginations.
The clock struck 7:35 and the cry of the nurse and the cry of her new patient filled the room, “He’s coming!” There was absolutely no need to tell me that, I was just about to inform her of the same thing!! I felt the tearing pain as I alternated between crushing the mattress with my bare hands and crushing my husband’s bare hands. Sweat poured and muscles strained as I felt life leave my body and suddenly burst into our world. Life! A boy!
What had once swollen my body was now pressed up against it and swelling my heart more than I thought possible. The tiny feet and hands that could scarcely be felt through the barrier of my belly were now unfurling, grasping, and breaking through the only barrier left: our vision. His daddy and I could finally see! We saw my nose, his daddy’s eyes, his Mimi’s fingers; our purpose, our legacy. We laid eyes on our first-born son and became blind to anything that would keep us from raising this boy into the man he was destined to become, our son.
The body heals and even forgets the first pain of The Tearing. And really, looking back, it has only been seven years. Yet, it’s been seven years. He’s learned to walk and lead, laugh and tell jokes, eat and cook, hold and give, love...and love. In many ways the student has become the teacher. I see it when he opens the door for a lady, helps his sister into a shoe, explains a word to his brother or swallows the sadness when life disappoints.
And tonight, I am the one swallowing the sadness while at the same time, smiling in quiet awe. Tonight, the clock reads 7:35 and The Tearing is happening again. My body is whole but my heart is softly ripping as I feel him tearing away from me again. He’s leaning up against the wall next to me yet not really there. Tonight, I’m his mother and that’s not what he needs. And I feel it: I’m ready, but not thrilled, and frightened beyond my wildest imaginations.
He doesn’t move but as his dark eyes stare past his younger siblings at play, he takes a step. He steps away from me, away from childhood and steps towards manhood. He needs a man to take him there. Tonight, he needs his dad.
This is different from when he was weaned from my chest, the bottle, the crib. This isn’t the same as him outgrowing toy trains, board books, the highchair. This is it: tonight the journey has begun. I see him struggling into a backpack too large and looking over a map too confusing even though he stands there unmoving; leaning, staring. Looking too little in sweatpants and a t-shirt too big. I see him working through something in his mind too “man” for a mom and too “man” for a child. I know he feels it too: The Tearing.
I lay siege to the part of me that wants to grab him right then and there, wants to pull him into my lap and make him stay young forever. The part of me that wants him to play toy-trains and read silly books. I know that would only stunt his growth, it would force him to wear shoes too small and shelve dreams too big. It would bubble-wrap his heart when it was made to be broken then heal even stronger.
I swallow the sadness and embrace the happiness. It’s happening: The journey. The letting go! The Tearing. The time has come and just like that hot July night, no one can stop it. No one should. Not even his momma who savors and adores her little boy. The tide of happiness ebbs into my heart and with a breath... I know it’s going to be okay. He’s got a man to model after. A man to dream big with. A man to help him pack away the toys and know what to pick up instead. He’s got a dad, and tonight, The Tearing is alright because I know who he’ll be on that journey with. Not a perfect man, but a good man. Not a man who never needs a map but a man who knows when and how to follow The Map.
Tonight, I pull that boy into my arms. Sweat pours and muscles strain as I feel life leave my heart and suddenly burst anew into our world. Life! A young man.