Last night was the Halloween on which my son announced it would be his final year trick-or-treating.
I looked at his beautiful face. He’s developing the chiseled features he’s going to have as a man. And I’ve taken to sometimes wearing even higher heels in order to still be able to out-height him.
“Your last year trick-or-treating,” I echoed.
I waited for the pang I expected to feel on my child becoming less of a child.
But it never came.
In the house in which I grew up, there were three children whose pictures decorated the hall that led to our bedrooms.
It wasn’t lost on me that pictures of any of us past the age of ten were not deemed wall-worthy. Nor was it lost on me when the matriculated presence of any of us was unwelcome.
Ours were three lives which spiraled out and away from the home in which we were raised, never to return.
But it didn’t have to turn out that way.
The pang that I don’t feel at my son’s announcement that he’s growing up is rooted in this precious knowledge.
There is nothing more important than my son being loved for who he is.
There is nothing more important than my showing support for that person.
In whatever misshapen ways I happen to devise.
Like having him raise his bare arms so that we can marvel at the little fuzz in his armpits, even though I objectively know it’s a strange thing to do.
“You’re so weird,” he laughs.
“Yes,” I confirm, and nuzzle in to delight in the nascent odor.
“Aack! Get away from me!”
It takes a lot of discipline to get away from a body that once belonged to me.
But get away I often must.
How else is that body going to figure itself out, if not through autonomy?
And even, sometimes, through holding my parenting under a microscope to criticize what he sees?
“Scarred for life!” he likes to scream, upon such examination.
It’s our catch-phrase, the working title of the reality show we don’t have.
I don’t mind this. I know there are human flaws in my approach, and I’ve already taken the liberty of forgiving myself for them. This way, he can get stirred up about them if he needs to, without my defensiveness taking up all the space.
Without taking up any space, actually.
It’s mandated that there’s a certain level of transparency between us.
Sure, I’m the parent, and he’s the child, but I don’t have a separate mother identity I fall into during our time together.
I’m simply Delilah to his Django.
If there were a way around this, I missed it a long time ago.
And probably I missed it on purpose.
If Django sometimes laments our not being more conventional, that’s understandable. But I’m pretty sure his frequent use of the phrase “I love you” acts as its own counterbalance to that.
“I love you more,” I let him know. And I don’t mean it in a competitive way. It’s just right for me to love him more. That’s where my being the adult first gets to show off.
I’m good with watching him grow and change.
I’m good with his needing to push away from me, sometimes forcefully.
(“Aack! Get away from me!)
It means he’s making room for loving other people, too.
Loving other people with his pure and enlightened little heart.
That loves itself the most.