I heard the sound of the garage door opening in the middle of the night. Followed by heavy footsteps into the laundry room, further into the kitchen, the subsequent opening of the refrigerator … all accompanied by the blinking of motion-sensored night lights.
A familiar pattern. It was 2 AM. He was home. My boy. So I could finally get my some sleep.
Only this time was different. This will be the last time, in a while at least, that he will wake me up in the middle of the night like this. He woke me up with a pop of my water breaking, for the first time just over 18 years ago. So he does this sort of thing. And my world hasn’t been the same since. Neither has my sleep.
It was harder last night, though. Much harder. We’ll be moving him into his university dorm tomorrow. And the thought of this kept me awake, along with a few tears and suppressed sobs as it all hit me. My baby is moving on, not a baby, not a boy even. A young man.
I knew this day would come – I’ve been prodding, pushing, supporting, encouraging and nagging. So it’s kinda my own fault.
When Liam was born, he was the golden child. A golden dragon. The year was 2000, the dragon particularly special as the only mythical creature in the Chinese zodiac. Never had a child been so wanted. It was a tough road getting him here, after years of infertility. But was he worth the wait.
A cherubic Buddha baby who came into this world a month early. The first grandson on both sides of the family; the first grandchild on mine. A happy baby, a charming toddler, a sweet boy with this amazing openness. He loved trying new things, meeting new people. He loved using new words, eating different foods, making friends with young and old (amongst his first buddies were the seniors in our community, you know, his grandparents’ besties). He loved sharing his Cheerios with them. My parents loved showing him off and he had uncles and aunties galore as most Chinese children do.
He loved Thomas the Tank Engine, Star Wars, light sabers, Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles, toy cars, more toy cars…his obsessions morphing naturally into video games.
A lovable boy with a wicked smile and sensitive heart. And a natural athlete, first with all things soccer, and Phys Ed being his consistently highest marks throughout school. Hard to believe given his mom dropped gym class as soon as humanly possible. It was wonderful to help him channel this ability and affinity for people (especially children) to become a beloved swim instructor, lifeguard and camp counsellor. This last year especially has brought some heartwarming moments to see him interact with adults at another level, working with the Abuse Hurts organization and sharing the work that they do, to a wider audience and his peers.
Sure he’s had frustrations (math!); broken body parts (he’s a boy); and he’s got a dramatic flair when it comes to complaining to his mom when life seems just so unfair. Sometimes his mom fixes things for him – and pulling back to let him figure it out on his own has also been a growing up process. He fixes stuff for his mom too. Seeing how he’s navigated high school, university applications, life experiences up until now (including European travel without his parents!) has been eye-opening but also confidence building. For both of us.
A big part of his heart belongs to his little sister. I cry a little for her as I know she will miss him in her everyday, her big brother, her protector, advisor, confidante and sounding board for how to deal with their sometimes weird mother. She’s going to have to do more of that on her own from now on, lucky her.
So back to my sleep. In the end I had to take a couple of Robax under the guise of sore bones. Eventually I nodded off, with more positive thoughts on what lies ahead.
Liam is excited. This is his first major life decision and he’s made a good one. It will not be too easy, he will need to work hard, he’ll need to develop better sleep habits and he will fumble a bit I’m sure. But he will find a way to have some fun, make experiences positive and he will make us proud.
He already does, and that will never change.
(Now off to label the rest of his stuff … )