I find myself ultra-aware that these glances that warm my heart will soon cease to occur. And I know this is how it is supposed to be, how it is scripted. Mothers connect towards the goal of disconnecting; children prepare to leave. Mothers hold on to these moments; children lose them in the rush to grow up. I know I lost some of my own when I couldn’t wait to mature, grow out, move on. My own mother recalled what apparently were some of my favorite things — and I had no memory of them. It feels normal and according to plan, but it makes me ache. These glances are the stuff of this mother’s life.
The scenes have changed over the years, of course, though the setting and most of the cast of characters remain the same today. It began with Dad and me teaching you how to roll, kick, catch a ball. Your tiny little-boy-bodies stretching to conquer hand-eye coordination. And then to conquer the concept in hide-and-seek that requires you to not give away your location out of sheer excitement. Then it morphed into wrestling mob scenes where someone invariably got hurt, as each of you and your little pals learned — and are still learning, frankly — the power of your own strength.
There was tag in the beginning, and then thrilling night-tag, which has now become “manhunt.” And how silly mothers can be! In the beginning, I was firm about no toy guns. Ha-ha, mama. It didn’t take me long to realize that everything became a gun: a paper towel roll, a Lincoln Log. So Dad introduced you to PVC, and the “factory” opened. You two began fashioning homemade weapons out of PVC pipe and became the coolest kids on the block. All the neighbor kids soon were manufacturing PVC armaments in our backyard. My glances out the window sighted boys in black with hoods, scouting out locations by which to escape capture by enemies armed with PVC.
I remember snack time, when I’d take out a plate of plain old sliced oranges and juice, and you’d all devour it as if you hadn’t eaten for days. But, man, when you discovered the ice-cream man’s tune, you’d then all scatter home to beg for a dollar while someone was designated to stop him and wait for all to return. That kid’s payment for services rendered? A SpongeBob ice cream with bubblegum eyes.
Lest we forget the damage so much time spent in the yard cost: broken fences, damaged rose gardens, divots in the grass. Dozens of left jackets and hats and toys. Bless our neighbors.
I remember baseball with those tremendous gloves on little hands, pretending to play. Watching you handle the ball now, and make a play — well, it’s a little present I get to open every time I watch. Football, too: all clumsy no more. Most of your skills were born right out there in that yard.
I watched, and held back most times, as you learned about sharing, about helping someone in need, about how much it hurt to be ditched. We came up with our Family Mottos based on some of those very scenes. No. 1. My family sticks together like glue. No. 2: I treat people the way I want to be treated.
And all the while, without any grownup out there, no referee calling the shots, you muddled through the intricacies of compromise and the fun-compounding value of cooperation. Life lessons were learned on the grass.
I do so hope you remember. I hope you recall that you learned and grew there, made friends, felt pressured, and endured injury there; laughed until you cried, cried until you laughed; showed off, and were showed up, right outside the window on that grass. I promise you, my boys, that I will never forget. It has been a gift to glance out and witness — the splendor of you.
n Alysonn Cassidy was an at-home mom for nearly 300 years and is now getting paid for her work with the Patterson Joint Unified School District in a job she can’t believe she got. Her roommates, short and tall both, are thankful when she writes for the Irrigator, as she is calmer and more peaceful when she’s writing. Contact her at email@example.com