It's Friday night, 8:20 pm. The man and I have dinner reservations for 9:00. (It's like we're in our twenties again!) For the past three hours, we've been puttering around at home doing our own things. I've been enjoying the simple freedom of controlling the TV remote, stretching out on the couch and reading without having to share the blankets with anyone but the cats. The man has been playing games on his laptop. The house is blissfully quiet. R is sleeping over at a friend's house with his best buds. (That house has an XBox and the dad lets the boys stay up super late and run around in the woods at night, playing hide and seek.)
It happened just like everyone warns you. One day he's your tiny boy with his teeny toes and sweet baby smell and silly laugh who loves to cuddle and would rather be with you than anyone else in the world. The next day he's taller than you, with limbs and feet everywhere, smelling like an armpit, constantly hungry, and preferring to be with his friends.
I miss that little boy, of course, but somehow I've managed to enjoy R at each stage of his life. I'm happy for him that he has friends who are good kids. I love that he wants to run around in the woods in the moonlight and play video games with his friends until the wee hours. Although it seems like it all happened while I blinked, I've been so proud to watch him grow and become a funny, smart, wiseass of a 12-year-old. (I could do without the swearing, but I know he's just exercising some freedom and independence.)
He's fun to be with. He makes me (and his friends) laugh with his twisted sense of humor and willingness to be a complete wackadoodle. He uses his changing, cracking voice in his "routine," saying "Helloooooo, Mother Dearrrrrrrr" in a psychotic way just to creep me out.
But he's kept his incredible sense of empathy and justice. He's kind and thoughtful and can sense when someone is sad or stressed or angry. He still loves to give hugs. And, best of all, he still talks to me about almost everything in his life. I know that won't always be true, so I treasure it now.
I always miss R when he's not with me, and that's true tonight as well. But I'm learning to appreciate having some time alone with the man or on my own, even if it's just for a trip to Costco or CVS. And, who knows? Maybe tomorrow morning, we'll venture out to the antiques mall or Goodwill to shop without someone pulling on my shoulder and plaintively pleading, "Can we go now?" every two minutes.
Or maybe I'll just count the minutes until it's time for him to come home.