This past week I had the opportunity to watch my boy grow up right before my eyes. It was beautiful, really, but I am still struggling with the reality as I sit across the room from a young man, who last week was still my little boy.
Alex picked up a rugby ball a little over a year ago here in SA, and it turns out he actually knew what to do with it. I was not really aware of this fact until, much to my surprize, he received the much coveted honour of, "Rugby Player of the Year," last year for his school. Let me just state here: rugby has a cult-like following in SA. Rugby is to SA what,....well there is really no comparison in the States. So, we were a bit out of our league when our little American boy joined the ranks of millions of would be Springboks. RUGBY IS LIFE IN SA; little did I know the spotlight it would turn on my own life.
The 2015 rugby season saw Alex continue to do well on his school's most senior rugby team. Eventually, he ended up as the only reprentative from his school to be selected for the U12 SKZN trials. The competition was stiff, remember every little boy in SA is a rugby player. Alex, again to our surprize, made this team.
This past week Alex traveled two hours away from home to compete against 350 other rugby players for 22 coveted spots. I had fully intended to just put my boy on the bus and send him on his way, but something nagged in my gut..."You need to be there for him."
Richard could not get away, so I drove up to support Alex all by myself, checked myself into an odd little B & B, and headed to the rugby stadium to find my baby boy. I never found him there. Instead I found a confident, poised, leader, who really did not need me there at all. OH, he smiled when he saw me, but it was in the way he smiled at me that told me to stay away. It was not that he was embarrassed of me... we shared a knowing look. It was more of a, "I've got this one ma, look," and so I stayed back. I took my seat in the staduim and proceeded to watch, love, and support my young man from afar....very quietly!!! Each night I went back to my B & B alone I battled with emotions. The solitude let me bask in the gravity of the realization my little boy was now a young man, and my role in his life would never be the same. It was a tough pill to swallow for this hands-on mom.
Since the day he was born I probably held him too much, rocked him way past the point he had fallen asleep, let him sleep in my bed way too often, and this only made the distance I was feeling all the more vast. I had to let go a bit, not all the way for sure, but it was time to let go, and it WAS HARD.
So I watched, alone, in silence as my boy battled like, in his coaches words, "a monster," on the rugby field. He just looked really beautiful to me. He played with grace. He prayed with his team before and after each match, (his was the only team in the tournament to do this). He was late to plays because he was checking on injured mates. He soared through the air on line outs, and left all had on the fields. I longed to run up and hug and kiss him, but after his matches I only got a sly, handsome smile, and a thumbs up. Just as intinctively as I knew how to swaddle and nurse him when he was a baby, I instinctively knew to stay back, to give him space. Finally on the last day I came to a place of acceptance. It was only at this time that he ran up to me after his match, handed me his shoes and track suit, and said, "Hey, ma can you watch these for me?" He dropped the clothes in my lap and a faint, brief kiss on the top of my head.
I folded his precious clothes and placed them neatly in the empty seat beside me. I had to will the tears from my eyes. Alas, my world was right again. He still needed me...in a very different manner than I had wanted to be needed, but in the only way he truly needed me. The clothes represented the physical need, and that precious, albeit fleeting, kiss, represented the emptional need. I am so glad I waited for him to be ready to make his needs known! I am proud of how far we have grown. HOWEVER, I don't think a mother has ever longed so much to fold her son's clothes, as this mom did, in that moment, on that day.