August 9, 2021
I live for the moments where he starts talking to me about his thoughts and ideas. They always come after longs spells of silence. My inner dialogue is constantly reminding myself, “Shut up, lady! Let his words come at his own pace!” Yet, I can’t help but fill the silence with chatter or gentle probing questions. I miss those days when his stories would pour out of him while his warm body was tucked in close with mine. I’d run my fingers through his curls, imagining him all grown up. Now, as he slides out the door of the car before I even come to a stop, flashing me an inconspicuous, “I love you” in sign language, I see glimpses of the man he is becoming.
His once round cheeks have slimmed and hollowed. His baby-soft curls that used to flop as he ran are now tightly coiled and neatly trimmed. He speaks thoughtfully, his words careful and measured. His jokes, though less frequent, are still funny (he gets his dry wit from his Dad), and so much silence hangs in the space where there used to be a steady stream of stories and questions. The silence takes all my conscious reserve not to badger him into a dialogue. I am learning to sit with him in his thoughts instead of talk through them. The reward for my patience is beautiful, albeit infrequent, conversations.
Patience has never been my strength. When he was small, he’d get caught up in his imagination. “Get a wiggle on!” I’d fuss at him, wanting him to hurry up and keep the pace moving. Now I impatiently wait for time to slow down, to give me more time with him. Letting go has become my full-time preoccupation, a silent worry, combatted only by prayer for him as he starts on this next chapter. “Lord, please guide him.” is on repeat, while the other part of my brain, the one reserved for mourning the end of his childhood, chants, “Only four years left.”
I find myself trying to drag him along with me on errands just to spend time alone with him. Today as we stopped at a couple of stores, I wondered out loud where a particular item might be located while leveraging my best guesses. As we found the thing where I had suggested, Ollie popped up with one of his occasional commentaries.
“Mom, you are really good at knowing how people think and anticipating their needs.”
My heart swelled at his compliment. He had noticed my attempts at letting go! He had felt my quiet efforts to prepare and support him as he nervously waited for his first day of high school. I mentally patted myself on the back and tucked those sweet words away to feast on later when I was sure to feel wholly neglected and misunderstood by my teen. Not one to let these kinds of moments go, I probed further….
“I’m so glad you feel like I’ve met your needs. It’s been hard to step back and give you space, but I am thankful you feel understood!”
“Mom, I just meant it was cool that you knew that marshmallow fluff would be next to the bread.”
Ahhhh, there it is. The humbling that always comes with motherhood. But I am learning that part of letting go means ignoring the minor annoyances. So, if you need me, I’ll just be over here relishing the thought that my boy says I’m good at something…even if it is just navigating a grocery store.
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