The baby shaved today and I cried. Again. When Adam, the man-child, shaved for the first time, he was 12 and the autism in him did not want to have anything to do with a mustache. Of course now, he’s lazy and does not care about grooming all the time but when it first happened,he did not understand how it go there or why; he just wanted it gone. With him I was so hell bent on getting him as independent as possible that when it all happened at 12 (the facial hair, arm pit hair, height, voice and zits) I cried out of some weird pride. He made it! We had reached ever so slowly and steadily another milestone! Alleluia! We got him there and watching Tom teach him how to shave was moving in a way only a mother of a special needs child would understand. With Logan coming into the room today with his tiny, red nose pimples and in his new voice announcing proudly (with two little nicks on his upper lip), “Hey, I shaved!” and Tom ‘s face thinking once more, and probably with my razor, my heart sank. I was really sad and maybe it was partly
the perimenopausal thing that is going on with me lately but I wasn’t happy about the shaving because of what it signified. After Adam shaved, everything happened at once and he was no longer a little boy. Logan, aka the baby is our only experience of a typical kid in every sense of the word and I have always loved holding onto that, making myself deny the inevitable. Coincidentally, this morning I came across a post on Facebook of my high school friend Heidi, with her son, Logan, in a flashback photo talking about how much he had grown up since that photo was taken and I wonder if she feels like I do.
Children are born and we nurse them, clean them and comfort them them in a blurry, tiring time warp and then they start walking (in our case running) and you chase them endlessly in another exhausting, tornado-like time warp and then they go to school. You try to stretch money and stretch yourself to make things work well and flow smoothly yet try as you might to carve out a precious hour or two for yourself in a day or better yet in a week, the school phase arrives and it is a killer with it’s endless driving, hurrying, lunch prepping and packing, more-laundry -than-there-are-days-in-a-year time warp that lasts a very unnatural amount of time and then SCREEEEEEECH… before you know it, there’s a dark fuzzy shadow above their lip and they sound somewhat like a donkey cross bred with a goose and they smell a little “oniony”. Then they are suddenly overwhelmingly “pleasant” with way too much body spray cologne. You find yourself tripping over shoes you think are your husband’s but they are in reality the baby’s shoes and you wonder when was the exact moment you stopped shopping at Kiddie Cobbler and found yourself in the gents section of the shoe store.
I am the only woman in a house of men. Chest thumping-watching the game on TV-video game playing in the basement man cave, men. Smart,
handsome,strong, athletic, talented, hard-working (most times), rough, tough, sensitive, occasionally shy, at times loud, tie wearing, hot water consuming, leaving almost every towel in the house damp, always-ready-to-leave-the-house-before-I-am, men. To my sons, girls are not so bad anymore. In fact they are fun, pretty and interesting and so are all Victoria’s Secret catalogs. The baby has no interesting in dating but he has quite a popular position in the friend zone that will work in his favour next year or so, while Adam, lately, is asking anyone he thinks is beautiful to marry him and last week announced the name of the girl in his class he would like to kiss and the name of the other whom he wants to marry. So much for poor social skills and a poor awareness of others. Thank goodness his teachers are experienced in teaching young people with special needs and are able to help everyone keep their hormones in check. I have moments at home that I refer to as the “Guess who?” phase of the day. With the baby’s new voice and his heavier step and longer gait, I have no idea which of the three is coming or going up and down the stairs or who is talking in the other room. In September, both my sons will be in high school and in three years, the baby will be driving and Adam will be in work placements and getting ready to transition to semi-independent living. Everything is suddenly different around here and except for black and white images frozen in time on the wall, there is no evidence that children ever lived in this house. Truth is, even though they love and adore their mamma, I started losing them when they hit about age 8 when they started drifting more and more towards their father and the things he liked to do, which fortunately for me includes mowing the lawn and hauling stuff around in the garage, building decks and the like which absolutely do not interest me. By the end of August, I will be the shortest in the family and the smallest so I think I am going to throw out my step ladder as I have more options now for getting things from the top shelves.
I find myself humbled by their growing up. They have viable ideas and concrete opinions now and they know themselves and what they want more than Tom and I did when we were in our teens. While they do not need me around, they still want my company (most times). I often tag along with them (plus they don’t drive) when they shop and I am in awe of the unique sense of style they both have. They have both gone from dressing in athletic styled clothing all the time to wearing joggers with just the right slouch and high tops and shirts with patterns I never thought I see them embrace and with Adam, he pulls off a nerd/Einstein kind of cool sometimes (I mean who else can wear a neck tie with a t-shirt, warm up pants and flip flops to his recital and look cool?) There is a confidence and comfort they give off wearing their distinct styles and there is a cheeky sense of humour that surfaces when they “school” this old teacher of theirs about what’s in, out, hot and what’s not in their world of fashion. Lately, I have noticed they have politely (in Logan’s case) interjected in my shopping for their father. I have been told by Adam, bluntly (because he cannot sugar coat anything) that some of my selections for their dad are “horrible, awful and quite terrible”, while Logan has suggested he show me a way to keep Dad looking stylish but not too trendy so that he is out of place. I have even gotten the firm but polite “Daniella, you seriously cannot put Tom in that. The face just does not match these pants. Go with the cargos. The man’s in his forties,”
Grow as they may, I still have moments when they want to lean in for a long comforting hug after a disappointing day. As big and tall as he is, I sometimes get called in by Adam to pull up his covers and turn off his light as he settles into bed and some days, when he isn’t too cool or aloof, he wraps that long arm around me and kisses me on my forehead. I get my good morning hugs, my good night hugs and my “Bye, Mom,I love you” when they leave the house or the car. The conversations to and from hockey with the baby are intense, wonderful and engaging and the quietly shared chuckles with the man-child as we drive around to his activities have always been priceless. Adam and I have an uncanny sense that allows us to notice stupidity or absurdly ridiculous situations at the same time and without saying a word, we grin knowing the other observed the same crap and got the joke too.
I have my days when I want to pull my hair out because of these boys-soon-to-be-men. It’s been and will continue to be a tough job, this parenting … this mothering. Days of joy, days of tears. Days of anger, days of injustice when their world ends about 10 times in 24 hours. It is a job filled with tension and worry, insult and apology, youth, inexperience and absurdity, attitude, gratitude but always, always the days are filled with overflowing love and immense pride. This love, this husband and these sons have shaped my life, made me humble and made me wise. It has softened my heart, given me patience once so foreign to me and has given me a sense of pride and a love that I never knew could exist within my soul. I am so grateful to have said yes to it all and yes, even on absolute shit days, I am grateful. I remember when Adam was diagnosed with autism, my older cousin Nicole sent me an email and in it she had a lot of very profound and encouraging things to say but one line, one very simple line sticks with me to this day and it went like this,
“It all can get very busy. Very crazy, draining and overwhelming and then you’ll be in the car one day and you’ll see them walking towards you and you will say ‘Hey, those are mine‘ and all of it will feel perfect and so right,”
With just a year to 50, I find things are changing quickly around here and I like it and hate it at the same time. The baby shaved today, with his father’s razor. It seems it was just yesterday they went to buy underwear when finally the overnight pull-up sleep pants were dry. Tomorrow, the three of them are going man shopping to get him his very own razor. I will stay at home and probably do what I do best for them – cook – and I will be here when he comes home and shows me which one he chose. In time, I will have the same complaint I have about their father, when the cheek stubble is too hard to kiss but I will still reach up on my tip toes and kiss those rough cheeks anyway and I will remember with fondness the soft, tender, chubby cheeks of their childhood and rejoice that Tom and I are able to watch these two wonderful lives unfold before our older, more tired but ever so proud and happy eyes.
~For Adam and Logan – my heart and my soul. Love and joy, Mom.~