It’s been a long time since I spoke about mothering. Mommy blogs as a genre seem to satisfy their purpose once a child has become an adult. And yet, I am still a mother. With two sons, I’ve experienced everything twice. They each left for college but came back for holidays and vacations. Then they each finished college and set up nests of their own.
This last time handed me a gut punch I wasn’t really expecting. After all, we had already navigated long stretches away from each other, serious girlfriends, a pandemic separation (when we all agreed they’d be better with Dad in Maine then with me in NYC), and weekly phone calls that became more occasional. I’ve learned I cannot control their day-to-day health and safety (much less my own). I understand not only that I’ve given them all I could, but also, that they are fine humans whom I trust completely.
However, I had those moments, maybe you’ve had them too, where you look at the young man before you, and perhaps the light shifts, and you see a flicker of them as the small child they once were. And then it’s gone.
This poem from Laura Foley in the poetry anthology THE PATH TO KINDNESS: POEMS OF CONNECTION AND JOY (p.76 Edited by James Crews, Storey Publishing, 2022) captures my experience.
A PERFECT ARC
I remember the first time he dove.
He was five and we were at a swimming pool
and I said: you tip your head down as you are going in,
while your feet go up.
And then his lithe little body did it exactly right,
a perfect dive, sliding downward, arcing without a wave,
and I just stood
amazed and without words
as his blond head came up again
I watched him for the longest time as he walked
firm and upright along the street,
with backpack, guitar, all he needs,
blossoming outward in a perfect arc,
a graceful turning
away from me.