I walk my son to school.
He is too old for this, really, but puts up with me beside him.
Shuffling along, kicking, chatting to me.
He stands taller and walks farther away from me as we near the school.
My sweet baby.
How was I not prepared for this day?
He is too cool to be kissed by me.
I side-hug him, he mutters “You’re embarrassing me, Mooooom,” and slips from my grasp.
Walking home, I marvel.
Chubby cheeks, hands that always clasped mine.
Coats I needed to help zip up, a body that still required a mother’s help to dress.
He is easing away from me.
Step by step, a glorious world of his own awaits.
Pains that a mother cannot kiss better, experiences I can’t protect him from.
I feel bereft. Why did no other mother warn me?
How truly heart-shattering it is to see a child leave the safety of our arms.
Home from school, Liam asks for snacks and tells me about his day.
He settles on the couch with a book.
“Mom, want to come read with me?”
There is still this.
He helps me cook supper and he marvels at what he learned today—
“Did you realize there is math in everything? In that chair, that table, there is math.
Did you know that, Mom?”
And “Guess what I did at lunch?”
My heart eases just a little, realizing that—
While public kisses and loud proclamations of love may be forbidden,
Grumbling as I send him to the shower, reminding him to brush his teeth.
There is still this: after he is tucked in to sleep,
I pick up the phone to call my own mother.
I may have grown out of her grasp, but I still need her voice on the line.
The simple comfort of a mother.
For Liam, I hope: as far away as he goes or grows, I’ll always be that voice for him.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Keeley Milne
Apprentice Editor: Hilda Carroll/Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Author’s Own