I was a single mom to my son from when he was 3 up until
he was 9 years old. This means that
for most of my son’s life, it’s been just the two of us. My little Evan Boy and me going everywhere
together. Looking out for one
another. Having adventures and facing
the world together. We put Will and
Jaden Smith to shame and had more fun than Laverne and Shirley. Needless to say, we are extremely close with
an unbreakable bond. He is my little soldier,
my roll dog, my little man.
Those years spent, just the two of us, was a special time. There was a fair amount of challenges,
however. Not having my ex or any family
around, I was often overwhelmed by normal parenting demands like getting
through rush hour traffic after work to pick him up from the after-school
program before they closed, or having him involved in sports with all the games
and practices. Though I am well aware
that it could have been worse, sometimes it was tough to just keep it all
together, in general. And I was also still
getting over my divorce and doing all the stupid things that women do before
they stop punishing themselves for a failed marriage.
It was at night, when I would peer into his
room and see his cherubic face sleeping that the pangs of regret from the day
hit me. I
shouldn’t have yelled at him for eating my Skittles. I should have sucked it up and played one
more game of Scrabble with him. I should not have let him see me cry. Again! I would tell myself right then and there that I would be a better mom
the next day and never take him for granted.
Though it was a time of frequent parenting missteps, it was
also a time full of endless laughter, fun and precious, irreplaceable moments
with my son. It was also my greatest personal
growth period to date. We took
spontaneous road trips, saw midnight movies, played catch at the park, had
nightly dance parties, snuggled in bed telling each other stories until the
early morning hours. Just the two of
us. In the midst of any of these moments,
Evan would give me this look—it was a visible inhale with a bright-eyed,
confident smile, and it exuded pure, innocent happiness as he realized just
then that I loved him with all my heart. It was as if he was taking a breath to place that moment deep inside his
memory. And every time I saw it, I
wanted to be a better person.
I spent 20 minutes staring at his perfect face and I started to miss what we had.
In that time with Evan, I learned so much about myself. I learned to accept who I was, where I was in life and understand just how special my son is. And I came to really value and appreciate, above all things in this world, my role as his mother.
Now I’m married. And
I have a baby girl. Evan and I have
expanded our family into the one we always wanted. Though we are thrilled to have this happy
family, it has been somewhat of an adjustment for Evan and me from our old
ways. Not only did Evan have to get used
to not being the only man of the house, but he’s also now further sharing my
attention with a baby who is endlessly showered with “oohs” and “aaahs.” Our house is run in a more organized fashion
now. He has two adults keeping him in
line, and the baby forces a fairly strict schedule.
The other night, after the baby was fast asleep, I went to
Evan’s room to tuck him in. There he
was, already asleep, his now 11-year-old face a little less round, but still
cherubic. I clenched my chest and felt a
sadness rip through me. He used to be my
only one. I realized just how different
life must be for my little boy, my sidekick. How could he not be feeling forgotten? I should have had an impromptu
dance party with him, I shouldn’t have stayed in my room so long, I should have
given him more attention today. I spent 20 minutes staring at his perfect
face and I started to miss what we had.
Though my attention is divided three ways now, I know that I
must always nurture and be grateful for the bond Evan and I have. Though I may have been far from the perfect
mom, that bond saw my son and I through hardships and tears, and it made me
realize that no matter what happened around us, we would be just fine. There are no more impromptu road trips for
just Evan and me, but we do have a special night once a week where we go to the
movies, still have dance parties and stay up to talk until 2 a.m. Just recently we went to my parent’s house,
and when my dad brought out the four-wheelers, I hopped on one next to Evan and
we took off. As we rode through the
field, I looked over at him and saw him inhale, and give me that look. I had to catch my breath. We will always be a special duo.