Few and far between are the moments when a mother gets to be a fly on the wall. Seems like we’re either in it or out of it. We’re either in the room, covered in spit-up and dirty diapers and that toothless grin that makes you melt, or we’re hearing about the horrible thing that so-and-so said on the playground and wishing we were there to squeeze that kid’s face till his cheeks deflate. But rarely are we there, behind the scenes, able to watch our children navigate through life without them knowing we’re there. If your children are like mine, they can smell me a mile away. Hopefully I smell like White Linen and Ivory Soap and fresh-made snickerdoodles. It’s as if my sons have a radar built in their very souls that beeps when I’m near. They can spot me from a mile away – still with a big wave and a smile, thank God.
But today, I was given the Holy Grail of motherhood – the chance to watch my older son eat lunch with his friends. Like Harry Potter in an invisibility cloak, I somehow defied detection and was able to sit there, in my car, like some sort of private detective, seeing my son just be. My son’s second grade class is lucky enough to still be able to eat outside what with all the glorious Indian Summer weather we’ve been having. I could see him, lunchbox in hand, walking toward the outdoor tables with three of his friends, talking and laughing and swinging their lunchboxes high into the air and my son leapt. Literally leapt with a giggle and a smile and I just about cried. He was so unabashedly happy – so in his own world of friends and juice boxes and the knowledge of one little Hershey’s kiss at the bottom of his lunchbox .
I’ve never been so proud and delighted and awestruck by this little person who came into this world almost ten days late with a stork bite on his forehead and collected milk in the folds of his neck. And now he’s leaping and laughing and becoming his own person right before my eyes. And I know there will be hurt and moments of insecurity and times when he might not see me and wave with a smile, but for that moment, undetected and silent, I watched my son – walking around like my heart on legs – and I’ve never been so proud to be his mom.