Time has a somewhat paradoxical nature for our family. With one child out of sight and the other clearly within it, parenting these past few years has become an exercise in celebrating and mourning by turn, day by day.
Wolf left our house two years ago this Mother's Day. He wore a his Tillamook Happy Cows t-shirt and a pair of jeans, an anxious look pasted on his slender face. He had a backpack full of trinkets that only the mother of a child with Asperger Syndrome would understand, and a couple of his favorite Tintin books. His expression as he drove away in our friend's car is one I will never forget.
I spent that Mother's Day trying to justify my overwhelming sense of Peace combined with a smidgen of Guilt and a goodly dose of Pissed Off. Yukon, Bear (three at the time) and I went on a long drive and hike that afternoon to reconfigure the new family dynamics. "Where's Wolf?" Bear kept asking at bedtime and for days later, until the situation became the new normal and life simply went on. As it should. But the demons of despair that torment a mother's heart and mind when her child is not with her continued to press closer and closer, until I felt sure I would suffocate.
Last year on Mother's Day I had just returned from a trip to see Wolf. Unbelieving that he had passed through the portal of adolescence without me, I remember taking in his height, weight, and shoe size in contempt for Mother Nature's inconsideration in allowing me to miss out on one of the most important times in a boy's life, even with the typical teenage negatives. But through wise and empathetic discussion with my own cadre of cohorts, I was able to glimpse the benefits of allowing my son to begin the man-years surrounded by people who supported his style and personality and kept him safe. Down one bad, up one good. The sun began to peek around the cave.
Wolf is still at CHYC today, and he has forgotten to make me a Mother's Day card. I know this because I asked him and he told me, not seeming too concerned. We talked this morning about self-responsibility, probably for the umpteenth time, and he doesn't get that, either. But it is his decision to determine his own destiny at this point, again moving closer to adulthood without me. But that is what he must do, and I am allowing him to move either forward or backward with the wings and roots I have given him, hoping he remembers.
I am Mother. But I am Me, too. So will Mother's Day continue to be bittersweet?
Yes. And no.