My darling boys
I’m writing to say that I miss you.
On these first holidays without you, when we won’t be together for a single week, not even for a few days, I have to confess that I miss you. A lot.
This doesn’t mean I’m not happy that you are travelling to the places of your dreams. On the contrary. I am thrilled that you have are grown, that you have become adults, that you can be independent – after all isn’t it what we parents raise our children for? That’s why I have mixed feelings, the relief of having – almost – completed my mission, along with nostalgic feelings about moments together that will never happen again
Oh yes…who would say I am missing those holidays when you and your group of friends – there were always a few of them “camping” in your rooms, no matter how much I said we couldn’t take in more! – invaded the house with your voices, your music, your surf and skateboards? Only the mornings were quiet, when you were sleeping after coming home at dawn and sneaking into the kitchen as quietly as you all could to eat the remains of last night’s dinner! How could I imagine, when I look at your empty, impeccably neat rooms, that I would miss the mess you used to leave them in, the unmade beds, the mattresses on the floor, the trail of sand left by the surfboard covers and the pile of discarded clothes on the chairs… I even miss getting angry with you because of all that and your naughty smiles, patting my shoulder and saying “don’t fret, Mom, we’ll take care of it” and your friends assuring me they would leave everything in order before going to the beach, and then the next day it would be the same again…
How I miss the smell of bacon and eggs that you cooked for breakfast (or was it lunch?)… Even the man in at the grocery store looks at me with a sad look as if asking me why is it that I don’t buy those tons of bacon anymore, or the dozen of loaves of bread for your sandwiches ? I have to smile at him and tell him you are both travelling, far away. No tons of bacon this year, and, who knows if I will ever have the house as full as it used to be, because your lives are changing, your horizons are broadening and you no longer want to stay put during your holidays; you want to explore the world.
The same happens with my friends. It seems all the birds have flown. We get together on the beach and there’s no one to come and ask us for money to buy a coke or an ice cream. Or one of you to pass us running into the sea and spraying us with the cold water and making us shout, while you laugh, already diving into the waves at a safe distance. It’s just too quiet.
I know we have to get used to it. I suppose it’s being the first summer makes it harder; probably the first of many when I’ll still try for us to go somewhere together for a week, but then I will have to take you away to some different place because these domestic holidays of your childhood and teens – you don’t want them anymore. The moment has passed.
I console myself thinking this empty nest feeling will soon be over, in September, when you both come back, and we resume our daily life in Lisbon. You will still be going to university, to your rugby trainings…still, these holidays are reminding me that even these times will be over too soon, and there will be a day when you both move on with your lives and leave home for good.
Deep down, and thinking in rational terms, I am so happy that you will do it, because it means you are strong and healthy, prepared, and won’t need me so much anymore. I have fulfilled my mission. From then on it will be different, stolen moments from your busy lives, but that’s the way life is and as much as it may cost us, we have to let you go. Like most mothers, I know it will hurt, and that will be the moment when I look back to the time when you were small and I could hold you in my arms and wish time would go back, if only for a moment, and I could bury once more my face in your hair that smelt of baby shampoo, and feel your small but already strong arms around my neck and know the world was perfect and nothing else was needed.
My darling boys, no need to worry about your silly Mom. I’m not unhappy, far from it; but you know me for a mother hen. I am happy just by seeing your happy faces in the photos you have shared on our WhatsApp group; yours, Afonso, in your Bali paradise and yours, Pedro, in the several European cities of your Interrail tour. I am thrilled that you are having these wonderful experiences, that will become treasured memories for the rest of your lives. I wish you can go on living your life to the full and making the most of this wonderful time when you are young. I miss you, but I am so happy for you. I am the proud Mom of two wonderful human beings, who are now grown-ups and cannot be around their mother’s skirts.
So, go on, spread your wings and fly. See the world, have your adventures, but always know there is a safe haven to come back to – no matter how old you are, no matter how old I am, you’ll always know where to find me, and will always fit into my arms, even if you are now so much taller than me. Whenever you need me, I’ll always be there for you.
I wonder why I am writing all of this to you, as you already know it. Maybe because it makes me feel closer to you; maybe because I never tire of telling you how much I love you, how special you are to me, how much you have changed my life, how much you have taught me, how empty my life would have been without you. Because even when you are not close, physically, you are always with me.
And now, the sun is beckoning and it’s time to go to the beach. The quiet beach. Safe travels, my darlings. Enjoy your holidays. I’m so looking forward to listening to all the stories you’ll have to tell!
Lots and lots of love
PS – As I write this, I remember something wonderful that our Nobel Prize José Saramago wrote about having children: “A son – or a daughter – is a being that God gave us as a loan so we could do an intensive course of how to love someone more than ourselves…”
Wise words, that remind us our children do not really belong to us; you belong to yourselves, to God, to the universe.