At length, I have written about the mysterious alchemy of mother and son...shaping boy into man when you've been conflicted about what gender is and should be--when you've spend as many years as I have wielding the term "woman" as a weapon. I have shared the shreds of boy-o's ongoing story. How ill he was last summer when stricken with meningitis. How this diagnosis was an incredible relief after two months of agonizing pain for him, first thought to be a concussion--then, a migraine pattern--then, the words tumor--cancer--and my five-year-old's name all mentioned in the same sentence. He is healed, though the effects still linger...the headaches still overpower him on random days...his short term memory remains bruised. But, he is healed.
I, however, am still wounded.
My boy-o's life has been plagued with uncertainty for me. A difficult early pregnancy, where everyday I stood the chance of losing him...an arduous birth, where he had the cord three times around his neck and required assistance with his first breaths...a routine complication of infancy where he ended up hospitalized...countless lumps, bumps, illnesses, and ER visits throughout toddlerhood. Then, the spinal taps, MRI's, hospitalization, IV's, diagnosis, and picc line catheter into the vena cava of his heart. It is easy, when time passes, for most of us to slip into that calm amnesia of forgetting. We don't hold onto the idea of life as fragile and breakable.
I, however, still do.
I don't weep and wail or dwell in dark spaces--but, I recognize how wide shadows are cast on the brightest days. I no longer censor myself from writing about motherhood and my children. For so long I had decided this was not a "worthy" topic. I wanted to be literary and demonstrate my intellect. Now, I let myself go wherever the muse wants to take me--down the well-worn path of raising children? Fine with me...My boy-o's life has really taught me this. Motherhood has teeth. It breaks down and regenerates itself...it is a practice, both silly and profound.
I don't want to say I raise my son any differently than my daughters...but, the truth is I catch myself. He is the one I'm afraid for, the girls I cut loose into the world. He is the "runt"...the one I see as delicate, the girls are more solid...they're stronger. Boy-o is more ethereal. The realm of fantasy is as vivid and evocative to him as the real one. I see myself in this child on our walks, when he stops in the woods and puts his hands to the dirt, whispering,
"I'm listening to the forest's heart."
As the mother of a son, I am supposed to push him out into the public, "masculine", tough world waiting for him. He is supposed to burn across the Earth, cutting new paths, breaking down barriers.
I, however, just want to hold him closer to me...against my weary, vulnerable, mother's heart.