The other morning I was sitting at my desk writing, when suddenly my son Ezra was beside me, tapping me on the shoulder in his fluffy red bathrobe. As I turned to greet his morning brightness, he surprised me by tumbling completely into my arms, so I had to move fast to catch him and gather him close.
As I breathed him in, I let my heart widen and shoulders broaden to make room for all that he is, all he has been, and all he is becoming.
We were quiet like that for many moments, just resting together, mutually relishing the comfort of our sweet mammalian bond, how deeply golden and cozy it feels when we surrender.
9 ½ years human now, taller by the minute, fiercely strong and startlingly solid, Ezra carries an intensely driven, independent and self-respecting soul. As I celebrate all his shining strides of confident growth, I confess there are moments when I deeply miss my cherubic baby boy, tucked safe in the pack on my back. At times I yearn for that deliciously endearing toddler with the copper ringlets and missing consonants, whom I could just scoop up, squeeze tight, and shower with kisses whenever I pleased.
Now this seriously cool guy has places to go, wheels to master, and a blooming world of peers who inspire his wonderful laughter. Now he’s got endless hoops to shoot, ships to build, Karate Katas to practice, and a sacred handful of wonderful men from whom to gather the gems, seeds and tools of manhood.
So believe me, I know better than to miss a precious chance to pause with him completely, letting us both drink as deeply as we can of his instinctual return to the lap of Mama.
It’s different now than when he was littler. Loving him requires giving him a lot of space, respecting his growing need for independence, while generously supporting his distinct, emerging passions and drives. And yet to always be waiting with quiet, open arms for moments like these, when he leans in for primal reassurance. In these moments I can feel him simply receiving me, letting himself be soft and small again, refueling as he rests all the way into my body. How I cherish these moments I still get to be a sanctuary for my beloved boy.
Finally he spoke: “Hey, Mom?”
Still deep in love-reverie, I replied softly: “Yes Love?”
His face blissfully smooshed into my bosom, he asked me: “Do you think when I’m 18 you’re still going to, like, CONTROL my whole life?”
Struck by the humorous poignancy of his question~ this future pacing of his own freedom, I asked him: “What do you mean by ‘control your whole life’?”
He said: “Like~ will you still control my screen time when I’m 18?”
I secretly rolled my eyes: screen time~ my all time favorite topic. 😉
Holding him close, I answered: “Hmmm….when you’re 18? I’m not sure how much control I’ll still have over your screen use by then? That’s why I have to do everything I can to teach you about practicing moderation now.”
He was quiet, nodding, considering this.
He turned his head to the other side, readjusting his face upon my chest, his arms still tightly clasped around me. Then he asked: “What about food, Mom? When I’m 18 will you still get to control what I eat?”
I shifted his weight in my arms a little, saying: “Same thing. I mean~ hopefully I’ll still get to make you meals that you love? But by the time you’re 18, when you’re out of my sight, you’ll get to choose for yourself. These years when you’re still growing at home are the years we get to help you learn how to make wise choices~ for yumminess, but also for health.”
He pulled his face away from my chest and looked up into my eyes, grinning broadly in that amazingly sunny way he does, and chuckling a little, he said: “Yeah. That’s just what I thought.” 😉
Smiling, I asked him ~ “What do you mean? What did you think?”
He giggled: “About the GREAT news of when I’m 18!”
I laughed with him: “The great news?”
His eyes got wide as he explained: “About how then I’ll be SO FREE!”
Oh yes, I thought to myself~ my beautiful, amazing, trailblazing son. You are going to be SO incredibly FREE.
Then with curiosity, I asked him: “Free of WHAT?”
He laughed, and answered unabashedly: “Um? Free of MOM?!”
“Ohhhhh…Free of MOM?!” I teased him, tickling him a little in between his ribs, making him squeal as I pretended to find offense, in truth loving his innocent humor and comfortable transparency.
Then suddenly I could feel how tenderly attached I am to forever being his Mom, and raw emotions began to rise soft and full in my chest.
Sensitively catching the subtle wave of emotional tenderness flowing between us, Ezra squeezed me tight, assuring me: “I don’t ever REALLY want to be ‘free of Mom’, ok, Mama? You know that, right?”
I gathered him close again, burying my face in his thick head of curls, and said quietly: “Oh, I know, my Love. You’re just so excited to grow up all the way into yourself?! I really respect the powerful independence of your soul. But you’ll never be free of my love, Ezra. I’ll ALWAYS be loving and caring for you. I’ll always be your Mom. You can’t get rid of me.”
He pulled himself back again, checking me out, making deep eye contact. It was clear we were mutually enjoying this sweet acknowledgement of his growing up, alongside the steady promise of our unending bond.
Then he said, adorably: “And besides? I’m really NOT READY to control my own screen time and my food? That would be, like, actually not a good idea?” He laughed out loud, imagining it.
I laughed too, and said: “We are definitely in agreement on that one.”
The moment’s end was approaching, and then quickly upon us. He lifted himself up straight, adjusting his red bathrobe, and just stood there for a moment in silence, shining upon me, heart to heart and eye to eye.
I said: “Thanks for coming in so close for snuggles, Love. I sure do always love when you do.”
Beaming happily, he said: “Yeah. You’re welcome Mom.”
And then just like that he was off again, turning on his heel, zooming away into the rising morning light of his exceptional lifetime. <3
Photo~ Mama & Ezra when he was 2.5!
photo credit: Ahri Golden