190123 mother and child
Image Credit: ©Gulf News

It wasn’t love at first sight, I had started loving him even before seeing him and what a magical love it was! He had eyes and ears only for me. In a room full of beautiful women his eyes sought me out! No matter how people tried to hold his interest and keep him engaged, he yearned for my presence. How proud I was to be the cynosure of his eyes, to be the centre of his world!

Though it was the second time for me to be showered with such undivided attention and a love like no other, I still got blown away. Experience cautioned me that this was not for keeps and slowly all this magic would wear off and I would be left high and dry as he sought out greener pastures. This premonition gnawed at me but yet I foolishly gave in and decided to make the most of it, for the magic of love doesn’t happen often!

It was pure bliss for two years as he stayed by my side constantly, making it clear to all and sundry that he thought the world of me and it was me he wanted and adored! It did ruffle some feathers especially those of his brother who resented this mutual admiration and unabashed display of affection. I knew absolute and complete happiness in those two years and I believe it’s enchanting to experience that thrill and romance in our lifetime.

Milestone of togetherness

Once we crossed the two-year milestone of togetherness I became hopeful that it might last longer this time and I reveled secretly at the awesomeness of this bonding. I was so smitten by him that I remained unaware or chose to ignore the first signs of him wanting to be with other people. He seemed to enjoy their company too now and showed reluctance to come back to me many a time. I realized that the magic was starting to wear off but I took solace in the fact he always returned to me and insisted on sleeping next to me.

Another three wonderful years flew by though by the passing of each day, week, month and year I became less and less significant in his life. He became occupied with other more interesting and engaging stuff and I tried to be supportive and accommodating as much as I could. There were the occasional disagreements, spats and ego clashes between us but we would forgive, patch up and move on.

I always knew at the back of my mind that he would try to move further away from me and I tried to prepare myself for it but when it happened it broke my heart. He told me in very clear terms that he wanted a separate bedroom. I didn’t argue with him but simply accepted his decision with quiet dignity and he moved out of my room the same night.

Snuggle next to me

That night turned out to be one of the longest and most tortuous I ever had to endure as I lay down in the room adjacent to his trying to calm my nerves and hoping against hope that he would come and snuggle next to me. I fantasized that he would admit it was a mistake and that he couldn’t sleep without me next to him and run to me any minute. That was not to be!

I tossed and turned the whole night and swallowing my pride even peeped into his room and found him blissfully asleep unaware of the turmoil I was in. I admonished myself for being such a touchy, possessive and sentimental fool. I tried to reason with myself and convince myself that this was the right way.

I need to accept his decision and I need to teach myself to fall asleep without a tiny arm around me and without those round eyes opened wide looking at me in expectation of an interesting twist to the oft repeated story. I need to overcome the pangs of separation and learn to fall asleep without listening to the childish banter about what happened at school and how given a chance he would have batted, bowled and fielded better than most cricketers in the world or how he could score a perfect goal.

How could I sleep without making sure that he has slept and that he is safe and secure in the circle of my arms? How would I know if he felt unwell at night or he simply needed a hug?

I slept fitfully for almost a month after the little one, all of five years, decided to have his own bedroom because he said he was a ‘grown up’ and also because ‘all his friends slept in their own bedrooms.’

I missed the story-times. I missed the warmth of the small body next to me, the tight hugs when he had scary dreams, the sleepy smiles and the glow of love in his eyes just before he fell asleep. I was miserable but I knew that loving also means letting go, however hard it might be.

As parents we need to ‘let go’ many times so that our kids can grow up to be the responsible and independent adults they are meant to be and every time we do that we let go a part of ourselves too. Life is never the same again.

Annie Mathew is an educator and writer based in Dubai