Saturday, September 1, 2012

boarding school...


He’s always been different to the others, in soul and stature. From the moment he was born. He was so big. I remember the doctor in East London (South Africa) said, after looking at the scan, “Hmmmm I wouldn’t rush out and buy tutus and ballet shoes. This is a boy. And he’s much bigger than the first one.” He certainly was. I roared the hospital down with him. Nurses rushed in, wide eyed, “What’s going on?” Me: “I’m. Having. A Baby!!! Roar. Roar. Roar.” They dimmed the harsh theatre lights to a soft warm butter light to ease his arrival into this troubled world. He was perfect. Fat. Strong. Dark haired. They says babies can’t see when they’re first born. He could. He looked around at all of us, very slowly and very diligently, before taking his first earthly breath. He was strong from the beginning. So strong. He walked at nine months. And has always loved his food. I’d line his cot with bottles for the night. His chubby giant hands would find them in the still of night; he’d drink to his heart’s content and fling them out when done. In the morning, he would lie there in his little suits, smiling, gurgling, in a planet of empty bottles.

His eyes are like skies, wide and blue, my second born.

He never saw words on a page, but the gaps between the words which made shapes of giant trees and ships which I could never see until he traced their shapes for me, with his grubby, fat fingers. Worlds would leap from between the printed pages, like magic, until they were all I could see too.  I'd marvel for hours afterwards. The years have flipped by, like pages of a calendar and he is going away to boarding school. Because he wants to. Tomorrow we make the long journey down south, taking lots of plane rides until we get to the town near the sea. And I will leave him there, with labeled clothes, new uniforms, far far far from me, across darkling plains, past mountains, 'cross twinkling rivers, crinkled blue wild landscapes, to another country. Far from me.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” he said to me the other night, “I’m so excited!”
And we must be too. When I kiss his cheeks goodnight and hold him just a little longer than usual, inhaling his particular scent, my eyes closed, feeling the waves of emotion rise, from my toes up to my throat, I pretend I am Queen Elizabeth 1. She never broke. Well. Not in front of her people. Not in front of the children. She ruled the land and the seas. She was strong. And she was also alone. She managed, somehow.  And I will too.

Our children do not belong to us. They pass through us and out and we have to let go…Like the first day you take them to school and you watch them walk away from you for the very first time, in starched new uniforms, little legs still dimpled behind the knees that only a mother can see, with those wee wings brand new, freshly unfurled, glistening tenderly in a new morning sun. They will say things and do things that you won't know about. Over the years you watch their wings grow stronger and stronger and before you’re ready, they are. 



“I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too…” Queen Elizabeth I, Tilbury Speech.

toodely ole toot, y'all and bisous X.X.X. heartfelt ones before the journey. x j




16 comments:

Karine said...

beautiful post, Janelle.
Karine

debra said...

A lovely, beautiful, heart felt post.
Love and light---the words and the spaces between them---to you.

Robyn said...

beautiful. hope the journey down and the goodbye, for the term, goes well.

Angela said...

I had to bite my tears down. I know, every mother knows, how hard it is to let them go and even smile. But then, all the love you gave him, all the little things you shared, they are not lost. He has thrived on them, and he is what he is, with all his courage and curiosity, because of his mother`s love. May you both be blessed!

Dumdad said...

"Our children do not belong to us. They pass through us and out and we have to let go…"

How true. My son is 18, has left school and is off to college. My little boy (although taller than me by some!)

Janelle said...

thank you all for your kind comments. yes. tomorrow we fly! xxx j

elizabeth said...

Good luck to both of you! MAY HE HAVE A REALLY GREAT TIME
If Second-Born wants to be independent, you have been a super duper mother . So sad when children are clingy and still at home at 22....+ (and I know some too!)
Love the image of your son gulping the bottles down.
Daughter has lived across the Atlantic since before she was 18, but we keep in touch often and often.
The really weird stuff happens when your children have children............!

oxoxo

Bill said...

Nicely done. However, in truth, your children never leave home ... or you.

Linda Sue said...

My heart is breaking...

JoeinVegas said...

Ah - to grow them and see them off. Sorry

Amanda said...

ach - such exquisite pain to give them birth and then to have to let them go. your boy is gorgeous - goddess speed to him and you both on this next chapter of life. i leave tomorrow to take my boy to college, so feeling much of the same.

xx

Jeannie said...

Ahh, was popping in to say so lovely to meet you properly yesterday evening, and have been blindsided into close-to-blubbering-at-desk emotion by this beautiful piece! I thank heavens every day that I live in a small town because even though I have to hand my precious boys over to the dad for half the week (and not having them under my roof every night? HARD!) I still get to see them evrey day. Someone said to me that at least I'd have a headstart on empty nest syndrome, but I don't think that's true. I think every time they choose to be a bit more independent, our hearts ache and we have to swallow hard and encourage them, and cry later.

Your beautiful boy will be fine, but if ever he needs something, or can't get away for a weekend and doesn't want to stay at school, I have a spare room here in Grahamstown and I'd be so happy to help out. I should have given you my cell last night darnit - it's 072 591 3246. Sterkte!

Anonymous said...

Janelle - lovely words. I'd love to see you when you are down, please contact me. My boys are similar in age and he is most welcome to come to PE and stay anytime! Tracey

Nicola said...

A beautiful post. It's so hard to let them go...
Lots of hugs to you. xx

family Affairs said...

Thinking of you and feeling your pain Lx

toomuchaugust said...

when my first was born, i was reminded that from the very first a good part of our baby's energy is spent moving "away" from mom and towards independence. and when he becomes that strong, independent, well-balanced individual- then we see what good parenting we did. but, oy! the price we "pay" as we help them move away from us. but, define "away"? they come back, in different ways, yes but . . .

sherry