Our 21-year-old son, Reeve, was home for a couple of nights this week. It’s Spring Break, and he and friends are on their way up to Estes Park, Colorado, where their mentor is getting married Saturday. Since nobody has any money, and Reeve’s car (a hand-me- down from his cousin Nick) is in better shape at 19 years old and 190,000 miles than anyone else’s, he’s driving.
Last night, knowing Reeve was hitting the road today—in his stalwart but ancient car— driving for 9 hours loaded down with friends and luggage and homemade cookies, I was overcome with that familiar late-night / early-morning anxiety. He’s an excellent driver and remarkably responsible (compared to me at his age, anyway), but still I worry—even as I know that this road trip is merely an excuse for all the many things a mother can worry about.
I couldn’t help but look in on him as he slept (the layout of our goofy apartment is such that we have to go through his room to get to the bathroom anyway)—stopping by his bed to listen to his breathing, finding comfort in the quiet rhythm of his breath and remembering other times over the years when I’ve done this.
I thought of my very first incident of wee-hour mama ache, a little more than 22 years ago. Tim and I had just discovered that I was pregnant. We hadn’t thought we wanted be parents (didn’t think we had what it takes), so this news was huge and scary. On this particular night, sick with a respiratory bug (unable, of course, to take cold medicine—I was terrified by the realization that, just two months in, I already held the well-being of this brand new tiny person in my ridiculously inept hands!), I sat through the night, propped up, mouth-breathing, rubbing my belly, and worrying about the future.
(For the record, I listened all night that night to Steve Roach’s Structures from Silence, the soothing strains of which can now immediately take me back to that feeling of impending scary newness.)
Odd feeling to think back so far in my “parenting career” and to realize how much I’ve learned (and worried!) over the years, growing along with Reeve. I was good at worrying then—but I somehow managed to trust (myself? God? life?) through the fear. And somehow got to this place where I find myself worrying—and marveling!—over our baby, a grown man. And trying to continue to trust.
Photo: I know, I know. YOU look at this photo and see a young MAN. Intelligent, responsible, capable, etc. It’s a cliché, of course—and as sappy as they come—but when I look at this, I see the vulnerable being Tim and I were entrusted with. Mother vision?