“Will you need a jacket?” I shout.
Because every mom has a duty to ask.
“No mom–but you will.” He says matter of factly.
Because every son knows his momma.
I grab the only jacket from the car. It’s his–my now eleven-year old Blonde Boy. I push my arms through the sleeves wondering how much longer I will be able to wear his jacket. Not because my body is changing–thank god, but because his is. He has more growing to do and someday my small frame will be swallowed up in his tall masculine one.
A memory rushes to the front of my mind. Blonde Boy and I are sitting on a bench outside an assisted living community. We sit and chat while we wait for First Boy to finish his service inside. Blonde Boy’s small growing hand rests in mine as I chatter on.
“You’ll set me up in a nice place like this, right? But wait. I’d rather be further away from the main highway. Maybe in the foothills. The places near the foothills have crisper air. I like crisp air. You’ll find me a nice place near crisp air, right?
“And I’d love to see the grandkids. Maybe you can bring them by every Saturday. I’ll tell your brother to bring his family on Sundays. Wait. No, maybe come during the week. I’ll be too exhausted on the weekends from so many visitors. I don’t know how to schedule it all. You’ll figure it out, right? Just be sure to call me every day–and visit once a week, it really doesn’t matter which day. It sure will be great to see my grandkids”
Blonde Boy is all but eight-years old. Within moments of sitting outside an assisted living community his mother (that would be me) has aged herself quite considerably, married off her two sons, and has become a grandmother to multiple grandchildren from both her adult sons.
The poor boy is only eight years old.
And me? I am light years away from placing the burden on him to find a nice place in the foothills with crisp air for his sweet old momma.
It’s all lighthearted and carefree of course. We are laughing, playfully giving renditions of what an old creaky woman like me would sound like. We are sillier than silly. But truth be told–that day will come when my boys will need to care for their mother. I’ve watched adult children agonize over making decisions for elderly parents. It seems only right to plant the seed that yes, someday Son, I’ll need you to think for me and care for me.
I come back to the present moment. I zip up the hoodie and discover the arms run short, even shorter after I roll the cuffs to hide the snot he ever so charmingly used to wipe his nose on. Ah yes, evidence he is still a boy. He’s not yet ready for the bigger responsibilities of what it means to be an adult child to an elderly parent. He’s eleven. He’s still a boy.
I watch him run off to play mini golf with his friend. He’s not an adult, married, or have children. He’s eleven. I take a breath. Son, in this moment I’ll stay present to your eleven-year old reality of Xbox, YouTubers, your despise of bananas, strange love of math, the obsession for soft furry blankets, too much Minecraft, silly faces, endless appetite, and never ever outgrowing snuggling with your momma.
This is you right now. Today.
Later tonight I’ll take your hoodie off and throw it in the wash for a good snot scrubbing. And it’s in that moment right there it’ll hit me. The only reason I wore your hoodie tonight was because you told me I’d need it.
You knew I’d need it.
And. You. Were. Right.
This simple nylon garment wrapped both my present and future around me. You’re eleven. And you’re already thinking for me and caring for me.
When the time comes I’m confident you will love and care for me well–you already are Son. You already are. But for now let me love and care for you. Because after all, you’re eleven.
I toss the hoodie into the wash basin and watch it quickly disappear into the billowing suds. Blonde Boy can be heard in the background singing along to some tunes. He’s eleven. Someday, he won’t be. Someday. But right here–right now I hold gratitude in my heart for what is and what will be.