Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I am coming to realize that I will never have a more intimate relationship than the one I have with my son. I have an incredibly, increasingly intimate relationship with my husband, and for that I am thankful, but the intimacy I have with my son is so.... I am trying to come up with the word, and the only thing that comes close is this - sacred. But goofy also springs to mind.

I don't say this to be creepy, because there is nothing untoward going on. It's not only about body parts, which as a mother, you see more than your share of. It has to do with the honor of caring for these small people. For being a witness to the way they tick.

There is some of it that I am ready to pass up, to hand over to my son, things he should take on himself and be responsible for. (Wiping after a big poo comes to mind, and trust me, he does this himself now, but not before asking me to do a check for stray... too much information? Yes, I know. For me too.)

The incident that made me think about this is something that happened yesterday. My son's syndrome is very rare, but we are blessed that it has, so far, been quite mild. But it does show itself to the world, and he has no control over that. He has become an incredibly compassionate person, and if he has issues with it, he is dealing with it in a very positive way. He tells me every night at bathtime that he loves his "bumps", and he will affectionately pat them, and once in a while I'll catch him talking to them. He doesn't want them to go away, even though they are eye catching (meaning people stare openly). He has two large, beautiful fingers on his right hand, two large feet that remind me of a hobbit, and a very large birthmark on his left leg that runs from his hip to down past his knee, picking up again in a heart shape around the three outermost toes on his left foot. He has varicose veins on his left leg, and the birthmark, which is actually a vascular abnormality, will occasionally bleed. And that's what happened yesterday.

He had a panicked look when he got off the bus, and he was limping slightly. "Mom, I have a bleeder!" Normally, they'll bleed for a second, but not much longer, but yesterday, by the time we got up the hill, a bright red flower about the diameter of a tennis ball had blossomed on the leg of his pale blue jeans. We ran inside, took off his pants, his sock, which had also become soaked, and managed to stop the bleeding and put on a bandaid. It wasn't really that much blood, but it was more than usual. I don't worry too much now, but I know we'll have to get him into compression stockings sooner than later, and that the bleeding issue could become embarrassing if it happens at school. But why? That's what I was thinking about this morning, when I wanted to post. Why is our blood so intimate? I don't know. But it is. I also know that if it happens at school, it could scare people. Not just children, but the adults who don't happen to know about his syndrome (although everyone he comes in contact with at school has been given a letter of explanation.)

I guess that's what is hard for me. That my incredibly talented boy, my funny, smart, gentle, kid might be judged for something he has no control over. It happens to everyone, I know, and I know that we can't control what others think of us, and I know that my desire to shelter him from the harsh, or even sympathetic thoughts of others is something every parent feels at one time or another. There are times when we all have no choice but to share some private moment with the world. But still, the desire to do so is so strong. If I could will people's eyes up and away from his leg, to his sweet, silly face, and to his beautiful heart, I would. They'll get there eventually on their own anyway, it can't be helped. The kid is a force of nature. But that first moment will always be there. So, I'll just put this out there...

it's all intimate. Every interaction you have today should be honored. You, too, are a witness. And it's all sacred.


Franklin5 said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous post... you've made me laugh before, and now you've made me cry.

When Carter was still an infant, a friend asked me what motherhood was like. I said, "You know how it feels when you first fall in love, and all you want to do is spend every moment with him, watch him breathe, eat and sleep, but you can't because that would be creepy? Well, it's not creepy now."

Actually, when I type that out, it does sound a tiny bit creepy, but I think you know what I mean. And yes, intimacy is the perfect word to describe it.

anniemcq said...

I know what you mean completely. Thank you so much for your kind words. It means so much coming from a writer and mom I admire.