We were both barely awake. I was not deep enough into my first cup of coffee and Ben's Monday morning eyes told me it would be slow going to make the bus on time. It had been a very full weekend and the remnants clung to both of us as we tried hard to work ourselves into the day. As I slid open the patio door to let the cats out on the deck, a lone robin warbled and it felt like a bit of hope. Despite everything that is true today, this bird was singing and for months to come birdsong will soar above the normal morning music of coffee percolating, water running, and toast popping.
"Did you hear that mom?" he asked.
I nodded and he went on. "You know how they go away one by one and you just sort of forget because you get excited about the first snow and you don't think about the birds being gone? And then they come back slowly and you remember what you missed? I missed the birds."
Ben is 13. His voice is changing and the hair is appearing on his face and legs. He's dropped holding my hand, sharing a book before bed, and sometimes he even forgets to say goodnight. The kid who always wanted to "be" wherever we were suddenly wants to be elsewhere. I don't tell him I notice these things. I don't tell him I notice how the bedtime routine, once the hallmark of my evening, has gradually disappeared into the ether of "when you were a kid'. I don't tell him I feel each loss a bit more acutely because a pining mournful mother is not what a son wants.
What's that they say? Eeeewww!
I also don't tell him I like that he noticed the birds. Instead, I let his words hang in the air with the birdsong and my heart seems to double in size. His observations and how freely he's given them have always been a gift to me. As his body changes and his brain works to keep up with the pace, I know these verbal riffs might also become rare.
And so I do what I've always done. I sit in the moment, I let my heart regroup, and then I smile.
He looks at me and says,"At least we know they always return, right?"
Ah...that is the hope, I think.
Ben has moved on to food and clothes and Monday morning. But not me. Instead, I sit a bit longer in my hope of what will be.