Opinion / Blog

In time for Children's Day

By teamkrejados ( Updated: 2015-06-01 15:49

In time for Children's Day
[Photo / teamkrejados ]

He shows up at my door, tall and reed-thin, pale and disheveled. In spite of his piercings and his Mohawk he has the potential for handsomeness beneath all the road grime. His scant belongings all fit into a duffel bag, and it is not even 3/4 full. He hails from distant parts and will stay for one week or so, and then take off again for some random destination. He is gaunt from lack of food and weary from his travels. His very being exudes a tiredness of life. He eats as much as his stomach will hold, and then falls on my couch and sleeps the clock ’round. Gently I kiss his cheek and turn out the light.

That was my son, fifteen years ago. For most of his teenage years he and I danced a precarious dance: the Toughlove Tango.

There was never any doubt of my son’s love for me, or of my love for him. We only clashed where lifestyles were concerned. I had struggled hard to lift my family up above the welfare cycle, earning a position as a federal employee after years of professional ignominy. Darrell chose to live out his anger amongst those to whom anger and self destruction is befitting. Needless to say our worlds clashed and one of us had to go away. He did.

I lived for those moments when he would manifest himself, either by phone or, better yet, by showing up on my doorstep like some bedraggled animal. I never turned him away, even though we hadn’t yet resolved our issues. Every time he walked away from me, my heart broke anew. But, each time, I let him go. I knew that to keep him and cage him would be to deny him his own path, even though I could see his path was destroying him.

Can you imagine how excruciating it is to watch what you love slowly die? By their own hand, at that?

That is not the Darrell of today. The Darrell of today is moral, responsible, holds down a full time job and has a 3-year old son. He loves his family. He pays his bills on time, pays his community back by volunteering, pays his respect to life and the living. He has put paid to all the demons that chased him night and day, filled his soul and mind with unexpressed rage and, for so many years commanded his life and his every action. Except for those visits to his mom. I think the rage stepped aside and let the boy shine through at those times. Otherwise he would never had made those pilgrimages back home.

The best way to describe Darrell is that he is a self made man. After age 15 – when we parted ways, I had very little to do with how he conducted his life and what decisions he made. Every three months or so, he and I would have a deep conversation, but it was always from his perspective. I might have given him food for thought occasionally, or planted a seed but, even so, he is the one that nurtured it, cultivated it and let it blossom. He made his own decisions, and he alone suffered the consequences of those decisions. He learned his lessons, taught to him by himself and by life. Everything he is today he achieved entirely on his own. He is one of the most honorable people I know.

Wow. That’s some kind of pedestal I’ve put him on, isn’t it? Well, not really. He put himself there. He has earned every ounce of esteem and praise his 6’3” frame can take. I have no problem heaping it on.

During our last visit we again had a long conversation. We do that often, but, in this particular conversation it occurred to me just how grown up this child of mine is. He said: “Mom, when you left for China, I was devastated. No longer would you be just a phone call away. No longer would I be able to jump on a plane to Texas and visit with you. It finally hit me, when you moved to the other side of the world, that you won’t always be there. And it came to me that I had to let you go. I felt so cheated by your leaving. And then I realized: you’ve done your duty. You’ve been exactly the mother I needed, when I needed it. And now I’m all grown up. You’ve earned your right to live your life. So now, I say ‘Go, Mom. Go live your life.’ See? I’ve learned how to let you go.”

Nothing my son could have said or done showed me how deep his love is for me than that speech he made. This is the blessing every mother longs to hear from her child. And he dispensed it with grace.

A few days later, I boarded a plane. Oh, believe me: there was sadness at our parting, but not the depth of sorrow we experienced before. I know that, forevermore my son will be OK. He knows that, no matter where I am in the world, I am his mother.

She shows up at my door, tall, pale and disheveled. In spite of all the road grime, she has a potential for beauty. Her scant belongings all fit in a duffel bag, and it is not even 3/4 full .She hails from distant parts and will stay for one week or so, and then take off again for some random destination. She is hungry, and weary from her travels. Yet her very being exudes a joy of life. She eats as much as her stomach will hold, and then falls on my couch and sleeps the clock ’round .Gently I kiss her cheek and turn out the light.

Like that Harry Chapin song, Cats in the Cradle, my son and I have changed places. I am now the vagabond, flitting in and out of his life. He is the responsible one with the full time job and the family ties. Just as I had to let him go find his path more than a decade ago, he has had to let me go to find mine. That one lyric…

That one lyric that describes us best, has to be paraphrased. Yes, even though he’s grown up just like me, I’ve grown up just like him, too.  

We wish all children and children at heart Happy Children's Day!  

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