My birthday boy

I can’t do this.  I am usually a reasonable, rational, responsible mother.  But today, at exactly 2:43 in the afternoon, my son will turn 18 years old, and I am having a very hard time.  I know what 18 means.  It means he can be independent, it means that soon he will graduate high school and, at some point, he will leave home. 

I knew this day would be coming all too soon.  I realized this on his 8th day of life.  The day all Jewish mothers dread and look forward to at the same time.  The bris.  I could not watch, I could not even stay in the room.  When they were ready to name my little boy, I came out of hiding and walked to the end of the hall.  I saw my father holding my baby son, I heard the mohel give him his beautiful name, and then (and this is something of a blur) my husband and I were told to repeat something about bringing our child into a life of Torah, Gemulit Hasidim (good deeds), and Chupah.  Chupah??? Marriage???  They want me to bring this tiny baby, that I waited so very long for,  to a Chupah?  Who’s crazy idea was that?  I just got this kid, he wasn’t going anywhere. Someone gave my baby back to me, I went back to hiding and rocked him until everyone left.

Of course, when I caught my breath, I realized that it really meant this:  Raise your child in the ways of the Torah and to be a good person and to grow up and continue what you have begun. 

That is the job of a Jewish mother.

Of course, this is what I want for my son.  Really it is.  Sort of.  I want him to be a strong young man.  I want him to be independent.  I want him to fly the coop, to leave the nest.  But, I want him to need me too, just a little.

When I look at him I don’t see the tall young man with the voice exactly like his father’s.  I don’t see that I have to look up to meet the eyes on his needs-to-shave face.  I see a two year old boy with a squeaky voice who wants to climb into my lap.  When his booming voice says “leave me alone” and “stay out of my life”  I hear “I love you Mommy.  Hold you Mommy.  Stay with me Mommy.”

I am so afraid of him being hurt.  Even though I know that with hurt comes growth.  I am so afraid that the Big Bad World will hurt him and I will not be there pick up the pieces and kiss his owie.

One day, when my son was about 10 or 11 years old, he looked around and announced “Around here, it is like all the Jewish mothers are watching.  All the Jewish mothers take care of all the Jewish kids.”  I was really touched and pleased that he noticed that there were many people who cared for him. 

I know that when the Big Good/Bad World comes a calling, I will have to make sure that the door is open and my grown up little boy walks through it.  And really, truly,  I hope that he has many wonderful adventures out there, without me.

So, all you Jewish moms,  when you see a handsome young  man, who looks in need of a hug and a little mothering, please lend him an ear and give him a nosh. 

We are both counting on you.

3 Responses to “My birthday boy”

  1. 1 yourjewishmother August 2, 2007 at 11:46 am

    Thinking of you today. I’m saving this post for future (oh, not too far in the future) reference!

  2. 2 Selfmademom August 2, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Oy, this is making me cry. And my son is only 15 months old. I am going to be a basket case when this day arrives at my house.

  3. 3 Elaine Soloway August 2, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    As a Jewish mother, I can truly appreciate your experiences. Very touching. I have two daughters and am happy all of my tribe are watching over them.

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