The hardest job in this motherhood gig is watching your son in pain, and knowing that only time will heal, not your motherly touch.
Brett was a boy on the cusp of being a man, and hugs from his mother were verboten. He had a hard year – problems in school, bad grades, bullying, his own romantic heartbreak, and, of course, my divorce with his father, which hit our family like a hurricane wave.
“Let’s go to Coney Island,” I said, trying to be cheery. “My grandmother used to take me there very summer. We can go to Nathan’s and have hot dogs.”
“I’m a vegetarian now,” he said.
“Right. I forgot. But who knows, maybe they now have Nathan’s veggie dogs.”
“I really doubt it.”
“Yeah, me too.”
We took the F train anyway, down to Stillwell Avenue, the last stop. The beach was empty. The Cyclone and Wonder Wheel still. The season had yet to begin.
We walked as far as the ocean, and my boy-man moped around the gray wet rocks at water’s edge. The rocks sprouted green colored moss like Chia pets.
I looked at Brett with a woman’s wonder. He was once a baby that grew inside my body. How could any mother be an atheist? She had witnessed a miracle.
My divorce had arrived suddenly, a winter break surprise. Andrew sat me down at our favorite Italian restaurant in Chelsea, and over veal marsala, told me that was he seeing another women, from our synagogue of all places.
“I’m not in love with you anymore,” he said. “I mean I love you as a person. As someone who was my wife. Who gave me a child. But not romantically anymore. You know how it’s been. We hardly touch each other. And I need touching.”
Don’t we all. Don’t we all.
My sister suggested I join Tinder, but I have not time for that. I am a mother first. And Brett needs me now.
“Brett, come here,” I said. “I want to give you a hug.”
“I’m fine, Mom. Leave me alone,” he said as he climbed to the top of the Coney Island rocks, as if he was effortlessly shedding his boyhood forever.