I am sitting in my fifteen year old’s bedroom, on the hand-me-down couch that had finally become too worn for our living room. He adopted it a few months ago, despite the fact that it blocks his closet door and three quarters of his bookshelves; it is a small room with a lot of books! In fact, his room is wall to wall “stuff” that is two and, in some spots, three layers deep. A lot of it is predictable teenage detritus: dirty laundry, sports equipment, musical instruments–a lot of music, instruments & production equipment…music and books are definitely the defining themes in here– and then there are the small, seemingly random items that hold some private meaning for him, an inside joke with his friends or a reminder of a time that will resonate in his memory, perhaps forever. Behind it all, on every wall remains the Dr. Suess mural that Aaron created when I was in my third trimester. We always offer to paint the walls, but he has, so far, grunted in his monosyllabic teenage aloofness something that conveys that he is not yet ready to make that total leap out of his childhood.
This room has seen a lot. I remember how it echoed with emptiness and expectations during my pregnancy. We followed the Jewish tradition (superstition?) of not buying anything for the baby until he was born, except for the carseat, which came as part of a stroller. For months, the room was empty, except for the paint cans & brushes, and the untouched stroller in one corner that watched the room fill up with bright colors and characters. I can see myself on his first night home, as I sat alone in Aaron’s grandmother’s chair trying to nurse and feeling my body betraying me, once again, all the insecurities of my life leading to this one complete failure. I remember the transitions: moving from crib to toddler bed, the evolution of nightly routines, the closed door that requested permission. Sitting here, now, I see the years like a film montage…I wonder what soundtrack would fit best? And there are things I won’t write about…can’t write. Images that transcend words (or at least any words that I can push together); emotions that surround me now because they seem to have penetrated every atom of my existence, tattooing my soul & marking it indelibly. Private moments of growth for both of us.
In fewer years than I care to acknowledge, he will leave. I have witnessed this leaving before, all of those first moments of independence, but this ultimate step into the world is one he will take fully & completely. I don’t know what that will look like. I don’t know what that will feel like. But I do know that it will be a different leaving than anything we’ve experienced so far.
The room grew, apparently, as the boy grew. And, as the boy grew, so did I. How is it that so much growth can happen in such a short space of time?