Sex, Love, and the Middle-aged Mother

My son has a girlfriend. His first serious girlfriend.  They celebrated their one month anniversary this weekend, and I thought of the 372 months I have spent with his father.

372 months.

I fell in love for the first time when I was his age. And it was love–not a crush, not a fantasy, not some facsimile experience. So I don’t tease him or pretend the relationship doesn’t really matter. I know it does.

When I was his age, my boyfriend’s mother treated me with so much respect. She was warm and funny and listened when I talked. She treated me like a member of the family. She cultivated a relationship with me that outlasted my relationship with her son.  As I navigate this new parenting terrain, I think of her and how she handled things. I invite my son’s girlfriend to join us for dinner every weekend. I take them places when they need a ride. I try to be gracious.

But this new relationship stirs feelings I didn’t really anticipate. Until this point all the discussions I’d have with my kids about sex and responsibility and intimacy were theoretical. But now my son is IN a sexual relationship of one degree or another with a young woman and is opening his heart to her.  It’s normal, it’s healthy, it’s inevitable, but it also makes me squirm a bit. This is adult territory he’s venturing into with serious consequences, emotional and physical. And this relationship is just another reminder that my time as Most Important Person in his life is ending. Once again that’s normal, healthy, inevitable, but maybe something that I didn’t expect to face this soon.

Seeing him fall in love reminds me of falling in love. It is beautiful, and for me, sad. I have a loving relationship with my husband, I love him and he loves me, but it has been years since we have been “in love.”  I don’t want to discount the industry of our support for each other, the devotion it expresses, the comfort of our comfort with one another. And yet, it has been a long time since I’ve truly felt loved. Cherished. Irreplaceable.

Remembering what it was like when it was all brand new makes me feel old, used up. I am not a shiny new love. I am well-worn with a patina. Once again, there is value in that, but it makes me sad that I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have someone look at me and really see me. LONG to see me. WANT to be with me. LOVE to talk to me. WANT to hear my laughter more than anything else in the world.

At this point in my life, I often feel like a generic, dependable car. I want to be a sports car. 

A friend who is a photographer often posts photos of the weddings she shoots. Sometimes I click through her portfolio and long to be the object of someone’s desire and affection and not just the person who shares the bed and the kitchen and the parenting duties.

A long ramble, not quite fully expressed, about how it feels to see your life winding down as your child’s gears up….

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