With Stross, they have come on the most ordinary of days in the most ordinary of moments. His extraordinary life circumstances simply focus life in a way where contrasts to ordinary are keenly noticed – like when he, at 20 years of age, lumbers across our home on all fours to complete a simple errand because crawling remains his only form of independent mobility. In those moments, simple errands appear complex yet breathtakingly beautiful, courtesy of Slow Motion Motherhood.
While I am certain I have likely had such moments with Skye as well, I regret to admit that I am not as attuned to his slow motion moments. I wish I were.
Thankfully, I found some footage he took with one of our Flip cameras last weekend, and I was able to relive a breathtakingly beautiful moment that I missed. I am so thankful I have this moment, as belated as it is.
When I played the clip the first time, my heart clenched with breathlessness. So much had occurred in :29 seconds, and I had missed it all.
I have now watched this clip nearly a dozen times (and likely it will be many more by the time I post this). I have choked with regret each time: Why did I not stop in my tracks, grab Skye in a quick-but-tight-big-momma hug, then pull back to look up at him (for he is now taller than I) and say, “God, you are a fantastic young man. I am incredibly proud of you, and I love you so much it hurts.”
Why didn’t I do that?
The cliché answer: I take his life for granted.
The sociological answer: I would have embarrassed him.
The regret-filled answer: I didn’t really see what was happening in those precious seconds – 29 of which are captured here.
Before you watch the clip, I want you to know these things:
• I was in a hurry, trying to accurately locate the place on the Morningside College campus where I would line up for the processional that would lead me to my master’s degree.
• I was chewing gum – something I rarely do – to wish away possible coffee breath before meeting people for the first time. Skye despises the smell of chewing gum, so I try to hide it or keep my distance when I am chomping and he is around.
• I had only become aware of Skye’s presence behind me about 10-15 seconds prior to the beginning of this footage – after he had called out for me to slow up because his dad (waiting in our van with Stross) had sent him with our back-up Flip camera to take images of me crossing campus. I wasn’t sure how I felt about becoming the featured actor in a family epic, for I am usually the one capturing the footage. I love acting, but not in real life, so I when I heard Skye’s assignment, my instinct was to not slow my pace, as that wouldn’t be “real.”
• Because I am all about “real,” I managed to think of something I could share that I regarded as authentic. I chose something about having lost our primary Flip camera earlier that day.
• Finally, I was perplexed about why Skye would run across campus to take footage, because he doesn’t like being told what to do and doesn’t like it when I pull out the Flip camera. He is his own person. I remember a flash of wonderment: “Why is he doing this? Simply because his dad asked, or does he really want to?”
What I can see now, if not in slow motion but through constant playback, is that he did want to. He was proud of what I had accomplished, and he had responded to his father’s request to get footage as a gift to me. He believed I would like having parts of this special day captured for me. And I did … I do.
Skye: “Good thing you are graduating, and that’s what we're talking about.”
Ah, there it is: Slow Motion Motherhood in Skye-time.
Yes, Skye, that should have been what we talked about, as well as how insanely proud I am of you. I love your humor (the sound you made of footsteps “domn-domn, domn-domn”), your capacity for compassion, your creativity and your willingness to put others before yourself. I admire who you are becoming and how you are getting there. And when I mess up and miss some of your best moments, I love how you offer me generous portions of grace – often at your own psychological detriment.
Skye, these are things I would like you to know about this portion of a minute that we shared, but I missed:
• When I heard your voice, I felt excited. I love hearing your voice, especially when you say, “Hey, Mom!”
• When you chuckled, I hope it wasn’t a response to my inattention. I know that you – like me – chuckle sometimes when you are not comfortable and not sure how to react. I don’t ever want to make you that kind of uncomfortable.
• When I offered you a bemused look, I wish had conveyed more appreciation than bemusement. I also which I had not said something that probably only made sense to me; for even though we have lived in the same home for almost 16 years, I bet you weren’t able to interpret the nuance of my flippant remark. I intended it as a compliment, not sarcasm. Every graduate does need a son like you. They would be greatly blessed to have such a person to share life with.
• I also want you to know this: I should not have crossed the street without regard to what you might do next. You likely felt out of place even more than me; therefore, I should not have left you as the one to take the lead when saying “good bye.” Instead, I wish I’d have done exactly what I described above: grabbed you in a quick-but-tight-big-momma hug, looked up at you and said, “God, you are a fantastic young man. I am incredibly proud of you, and I love you so much it hurts.”
I am you know, and I do you know.
And one more thing: I cannot imagine being more proud of you than I already am. Still, I look forward to each day we get to share together, because I know I will be blessed with even more occasions to take pride in who you are.
Good thing someone found that other Flip camera for us, for I plan to continue using it for years and years to come.
“Hey, Skye, wait up! I want to get a really good look at you.”
I love you.