Saturday morning and it’s still early. I wake up and rejoice in the fact that I can stay longer in bed. Then I remember the boys going out last night; I get up and silently open my bedroom door and look at the corridor to see two closed doors. I smile and walk back to bed to enjoy the weekend laziness.
It all begins with doors wide open. Well, not exactly – when you bring them home, tiny and fragile, they sleep in your room and no matter how you dread their cries waking you up every three hours from the deepest slumber, you also live for their every breath, for the loving (or so you think) look in their eyes as you come into focus. That’s when you begin having a baby night light so that you may see the world around you even in the darkest of nights.
That light moves to the corridor when they go to their own room a few months later. That’s when doors stay wide open no matter what for you will be moving back and forth for no reason than to just check all is well with your most precious treasure; and also because you don’t want them to be afraid of the dark.
Then you get so used to that little comforting light that you stick to it for years even after they declare they enjoy sleeping in total darkness, because then it’s you who will not lose that endearing habit.
For some years the bedroom doors stay wide open so that you may hear them when they call, worry yourself sick when they cough a bit too much or simply tiptoe into their room and lovingly watch them in their sleep, not resisting to place a light kiss on their hair.
When they become teenagers all of a sudden there will be a closed door facing you. Of course you understand – after all you still remember how it was when you were a teenager yourself and you respect their privacy. Still, it hurts a little, because you know that nothing will ever be the same and your babies are no longer that, they are young men trying to make their way in the world and, as a mother, it’s up to you to encourage them and let them spread their wings.
Our children’s teens are a challenging period, to say the least. The first times they go out at night you find them so young, so immature, but even so you know you have to let them live their lives, as you once claimed to live yours. No use caging them, you have to give them freedom and let them know that with freedom comes responsibility.
Fortunately I am not one of those mothers who say they can never fall sleep until their children come home. If that were the case I would have died of sleep deprivation by now, for my boys enjoy going out at night just like I did and good for them too; they are happy, balanced and fun loving youths but also dedicated to their studies and sport. Thank God I never got any frights except once – when Afonso called at five am waking me up to say “Mom, don’t worry, it’s nothing much but I’m in an ambulance on my way to hospital. I was hit by a stone when I was coming out of a disco” I was upset of course, but the simple fact that he was the one calling me soothed my nerves and sooner than later I was driving to the hospital emergency. Outside I was reassured to see some of his best friends, who had used their little money to get there by taxi – and I found it endearing – and went in to find he was having some stitches on his brow. The doctor must have been highly skilled as fortunately there is no scar to be seen!
All these thoughts cross my mind as I creep back into bed and under my warm duvet, so soft and welcoming, reassured that all is well. The boys and I have this sort of private messaging: when they go out they leave their bedroom doors wide open so that when I see them closed I know they are back. My babies – no matter how tall and big they are they will always be my babies, and I know every one of you mothers out there will agree – are home and safe; all is well and I can go back to sleep in the quietness of the early morning.