On the day of his birth, for the first time in my 32 years, I received the gift of knowing unconditional love. I realised that I would love this little person forever. I did not know his abilities, his strengths or weaknesses. Did not know his personality or what mistakes he might make or whether he might agree or disagree with my philosophy of life. I just ‘knew’; in that deepest way we sometimes ‘know’; that he had my unconditional love not matter what. Which lead to…
A light bulb moment, an epiphany if you will…when my little baby multiplied by trillions. After years of mindfulness to it yet constant failure, I suddenly got how easy it is to truly ‘love’ every single human being…as in unconditional love. Because everyone started like the little being I held in my arms. Their genetic make up, their personality traits and their journey since their first day on earth is impossible for me to know and therefore irrational to judge. (Doesn’t mean we have to put up with nonsense or cruelty.)
Life, being what it is, had its balance and with the joy I found even more problems with my partner and suddenly experienced the protective mother thing with intensity. Two year later relationship ends, the fear I discover a constant but the love, the laughter, the getting to know this intelligent, sensitive artistic rebellious young man has been amazing. To parent him with unconditional love and the boundaries each age has required has been a learning curve of…geez what words can I use that describe the emotional intensity of trying to ignore any knee-jerk reactions, parent well and make up for the missing parent…challenging, rewarding, infuriating, rapturous, terrifying…
By the time he was four I decided to be a mum at home with my kid instead of having him in just about permanent childcare now I was a single mum and worked nursing shifts.His childhood we both agree was awesome. In the country with two best friends, a playful loving mum, the Wombat Forest as our literal backyard, thousands of adventures and always laughter. Imagination is very important.
From then until a couple of years ago I have juggled being an available parent but still have a home and veggies (and moments of financial desperation) but have had the rewards of leading my son down roads less damaging to him and others and to experience the simple joy of being alive on planet earth. I don’t think he would have got that from any daycare I could afford.
Until adolescence we had never had a full on argument. When he was thirteen we did and we were both so shocked at our anger that we suddenly stopped and went WTF??? We talked about what was going on and realised puberty and peri-menopause had collided. We discussed how we would have moments when we wanted to scream at each other but we had to try to keep to our philosophy which was simply to treat others the way we wanted to be treated.
So we learnt how to manage these feelings…sometimes well, sometimes badly, and spent much more time laughing than arguing. Our conversations changed from stories and adventures of daring do to the real world (arg), friendships, girlfriends, privacy, and politics and…well let us just say the making up of stories was much less complicated!
The hardest thing for the parent of teenagers is that when our kids are little we don’t only feel unconditional love we get it from them. How amazing it is to be loved by your child. You are the best mum/dad in the universe. When your child looks up at you, you can see the love radiating from their eyes. At four, my son was going to marry me and be with me forever. What commitment! Unconditional Love…What a Feeling!
Then they are your height…starring in your eyes…with hormone-induced rage shouting; “No!”
I controlled my knee-jerk reaction, parented to the best of my ability and silently grieved the apparent death of my beautiful little boy. He was still a loving son but his innocence was gone and I grieved the loss. Yet the years of his adolescence have been rewarding as well.
Now he is a boy no longer. He is a young man who must step out and discover his potential. I wave him off knowing he has the strengths to do well; he knows what is important and what is not. Of course, he will make mistakes but that’s life. Hopefully none too serious.
For me being his mom has bought me so much joy. I know I keep being his mom but this is nevertheless an ending. I have been so lucky to be able to like my son as well as love him. He has his weaknesses but who hasn’t?
I am nearly twenty years older than when our journey began together. At fifty-one, I can’t help feeling that this ending is the ending of the ‘best time of my life’. I am not saying my life is over but rather that I cannot imagine ever feeling as happy as I have felt as Jayke’s mum.
How I will miss him.