My son turned 19 on Friday. It was his first birthday that we spent physically apart. In many ways, though, we’ve been apart for years. Kids don’t just grow up, they grow away from you, and while that’s true for both genders, I think that boys – with their society-mandated ban against emotions – are colder during the process.
An only child, my son was an exceptionally happy and affectionate little boy. As his father worked out-of-state and came home only on weekends for ten years, the two of us were especially close. He would sit in my lap when we watched TV together. I’d usually wake up to find him in my bed. We’d talk endlessly as I drove him around town to his various activities and lessons. We’d go to movies together, dinner. We were best friends.
And then he started high school. Suddenly I was persona non grata.
I had expected this, to a certain extent, but what I hadn’t expected was that he’d completely and categorically deny our previous closeness. It was like being dumped by a boyfriend who then claimed you’d never gone out.
When I’d bring up certain cherished memories – “Remember when we went to Disney World? Remember seeing Peter Pan on Broadway?” he’d claim complete ignorance. He had no recollection of his boyhood love of Peter Pan, of watching the Cathy Rigby tape over and over again, singing, “I Gotta Crow.” And he’d get angry if I tried to refresh his memory.
Since so many activities were just the two of us, it meant that these memories were now mine and mine alone. (Unless they have to do with a feat on the baseball field. He has no problem recalling those, no matter how young he was at the time.)
Sometimes I feel like a stalkerish ex-girlfriend toward my own son. “Don’t you remember how great this was? Don’t you remember what we were like together? Why don’t you love me anymore? Waaaa…” I was hoping not to ever behave this way again after getting married.
I’ve been told by friends who have older children, that eventually young men grow out of the angry teenager phase and stop pushing away Mom so hard. I don’t know if that means the memories will come back too, though.
Breaking up is hard to do. Especially when you’re getting dumped by your own child!