My son recently turned 18. My 4-lb, 7-oz preemie is now 170 pounds and six-foot-one. As he grew up, hitting all those important milestones, I’ve managed to keep myself pulled together, knowing I had time.I’d tell myself, You’re fine; this isn’t The Big One. Well, like an earthquake, this one sneaked up on me and I admit, it’s been tougher for me to pick up the pieces and rebuild my composure. Then again, it doesn’t take much to make me cry. Case in point: Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.
If you’re not familiar with the premise, let me recap it for you (I feel myself getting verklempt as I write this). A mother rocks her newborn son and sings:
“I’ll love you forever
I’ll like you for always
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.”
She continues to do this as her son grows up, sneaking into his room and rocking him while he sleeps until she’s an old woman and then . . .
See? I can’t even finish telling you the story.
When I look back on the hours and hours of story time, this book made a regular appearance; mostly my doing, not my son’s. Really, why would he want to pick a book that makes mommy cry every time? (My husband would shake his head and ask, “Why do you put yourself through this?” I’d shrug, wipe my eyes, and wrap up story time with Green Eggs and Ham.) Not everyone finds the book as endearing as I do, but I’ll stand by it as an accurate representation of how I feel as a parent. Despite my watery eyes, my son always let me read through to the end (if I could manage it). I think he knew I just needed it.
Perhaps that’s why he lets me hug him in public, never walks out the door or goes to bed without saying “I love you,” and humors me when my hugs last a few seconds longer than usual. I need these; and he seems to get that. Recently, we sat through a marathon of home movies from when he was a toddler and while I sniffled a few times, he didn’t roll his eyes at me once.
I know that it’s important to acknowledge the present and in between these stints of nostalgia, I marvel at him as we talk about music, politics, and relationships. I’m looking forward to when we will come together and chat about his adventures as a traveler, husband, and parent.
In the meantime, I can’t promise I won’t attempt to crawl through his dorm room window at night to rock him to sleep—although I suspect college campuses have measures in place to keep moms from doing this—but I will make sure he knows I’ll be there in no time when he asks for one of my extended hugs.
April Moore is Director of Northern Colorado Writers and is the author of the novel, Bobbing for Watermelons as well as, Folsom’s 93, a historical nonfiction about the lives and crimes of Folsom Prison’s executed men.
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