Lately, and rather suddenly, T has taken to referring to me as his mom. I truly never really cared - my role was clear enough, regardless of how he referred to me. But I did find it interesting, and wondered what was going on inside.
After all, he has been living away from home, taking community college classes in another city and living with a friend of our family, for six months now. He's stretched and emphasized new aspects of his personality in that time, in magnificent ways. He is wearing new clothes, doing new things, eating new kinds of food, and thinking new thoughts. He is going through a confident, happy phase. At the same time, he talks openly about his pain regarding his younger brother, who is caught up in the probation system. And he calls me now and then when he has an anxiety attack. We chat, while he walks it off, gets something in his stomach, waits it out. I see him becoming all of himself, finding ways for the pain and the happiness to accommodate each other in the day to day, growing into the profound honesty and awareness his life requires of him while allowing himself to have fun. He amazes me.
I thought perhaps his choice to use "mom" of late was made casually. He has always referred to us as "parents" - a word he chose deliberately, when he first came to live with us. He would even introduce me that way: "This is my parent, Lulu." It made sense - he knows his birth mother, and I've spoken to her myself. He's always referred to her as his mom, although he's never lived with her. But "parent" was a role nobody had really played in his life for quite some time.
But anyway, lately, we'd noticed him referring to us as "mom" and "dad" in conversations with other people. This was new. Perhaps it was just easy, now that he no longer lives at home, and he's meeting new people and doesn't need to explain his back story. However, T is rarely casual about anything, and on Mother's Day this year, he gave me a peek inside his heart. He sent me a text that read: "Happy Mother's Day. Thank you for filling the spot my mom wasn't able to. You have been doing a great job of being my mom and I thank you for that. I love you so much."
I was beyond touched, of course. I was dizzy with love, not only because this was an exquisite expression of appreciation and totally unexpected; I was also so awed by him, as I often have been, for choosing his words so carefully, expressing himself so clearly, and for showing his birth mom so much respect, in the same gesture that encompassed me. We are his moms, and I love him for understanding that she simply could not be present for him. That is a source of unspeakable pain, and yet he refers to it so gently. There is really so little rage in his personality, sometimes he astonishes me completely. Where you expect to find it, often, instead, there are bottomless pools of wisdom.
My grandmother always told me you should never date a man who didn't respect his own mother. If that's the sign of a good man, then a man who can respect ALL of his mothers must be truly great.