This weekend my middle kid is moving out, for real this time.
As per usual for me, it evokes a whole spectrum of bittersweet emotions. Some dance around in my periphery, some linger, and others settle heavy like a brick in the pit of my gut.
Don’t get me wrong…he’s fiercely independent. Perfectly capable.
He’s already traveled the world and stretched those wings out BEYOND full span, but here’s the difference….this time he’s taking his bed, so it’s obviously serious. (And no…he doesn’t want the shitty old corduroy couch from the shed as a bonus, thanks though.)
Truth be known, he was BORN pushing the boundaries.
(And my Lord has he been a challenge).
Determined and feisty, but laced with a dead set gnarly grit that seems to grace those who’ve been forced to dig deeper for simple survival. Takes me back to the first time he proved to us he was going to do life on his own terms. One month shy of his first birthday.
I sit in the waiting room at 12:15am in eerie silence, apart from the rhythmic beep that peeks through my my subconscious as distant monitors do their thing. Just down the corridor, my fair haired babe battles courageously to stay with us, after a late night haemorrhage turns our world upside down. Not for the first time, but this one is scarier. Bigger. Heaps more confronting.
Especially at midnight in a sterile, uncomfortable, and COMPLETELY deserted hospital waiting room with only blend 43 and a stinky styrene cup to keep me company.
Let’s backtrack an hour.
I look up as the door squeaks open.
I know the surgeon. That's the first miracle, as it turns out. (What are the chances…in a big unfamiliar hospital in a brand new city, that I would encounter for a SECOND time, the surgeon who knows and remembers me).
I cry tears of pure relief.
He asks me if I think I’m strong enough to hold my baby while he’s being anaesthetised. (He already knows the answer). I scrub up and join the team in the theatre.
He’s not wrong…it’s confronting. The body does weird things. Stiffens and relaxes unnaturally. I have to disengage a bit and talk myself through it, until my boy slumps heavy in my arms and is whisked away. Just like that.
11 months prior, this surgeon extended the greatest respect to me as a mama. He believed in the unspoken power of the bond, (or rather, if he didn’t already believe in it, he was prepared to let me sign a disclaimer because ‘I’ felt so strongly about it).
So because of him, I was able to hold my baby skin to skin as he took his first breath, during a c’section in 1995. It just wasn’t the done thing.
A pure gift absolutely, but the true significance of that little triumph was about to unfold again, in the operating theatre at something past midnight.
Again, the door squeaks open, again the familiar face of my friend. He looks ashen. Dishevelled and beaten. My heart drops through the floor.
‘He’s not doing so well. It was a battle. STILL a battle. We thought you might like to see him’.
So I scrub up again. He explains what I’m gong to be confronted with.
Tubes and beeps and monitors and oxygen.
I’m strong enough. I’m strong enough. I’m strong enough.
I’m greeted with four exhausted faces. Pitying looks. People busying themselves so they don’t have to watch. I realise I have to be the brave one here. I’m not feeling brave.
I catch they eye of my friend. At least he’s not scared to look at me.
‘Go on’ he says as he gestures to the bed. 'Sit with him’.
He makes room and helps me up. I marvel at the tiny amount of space my boy takes up.
‘Be mighty, my boy’, I whisper. ’Time to be courageous, little man.'
He’s lifted tenderly into my arms. Time stands still, or at least it does for me. I know there’s still a flurry of activity, but I’m unaware. It’s just me and him.
‘Put him against your skin’.
I don’t hear the words.
‘Your skin. Hold him against your skin’.
I almost laugh. My friend the surgeon remembers. His expression flickers the faintest suggestion of a smile and a nod.
And there you have it. The game changer.
My baby boy turns his head and flutters his eyelids. His grey-blue lips turn an ever-so-slightly pinker tinge, and the beeps become loud and demanding. The room is instantly a hive of heightened, almost excited activity.
Tiny but oh so mighty.
And he’s moving out this weekend.