It’s great to feel like a mother again – after a two-year break


Loving embrace: Reunions at airports are always a heartwarming sight. Photo: Reuters

Our columnist was breathless with excitement as she waited at the airport for the arrival of her son — after a two-year absence.

As I stood in the airport arrival hall, scanning the faces of weary travellers, my excitement was beginning to affect my breathing. If my son didn’t hurry up, I was in danger of hyperventilating, which would force me to go to the McDonald’s outlet upstairs to get a paper bag to assist my breathing.

It had been more than two years since I’d last seen my son, and I was sure he wouldn’t appreciate the sight of his mother with her face half-concealed by a bag emblazoned with golden arches.

When he finally emerged into the crowded hall, pushing a trolley that creaked under the weight of his luggage, I held back for a few seconds. He looked a lot thinner than I remembered, and his face was pale and drawn – all the signs that he was lacking his mother’s attention.

Of course, it would also have been fair to conclude that most people look a little pale and drawn after a long-haul flight, usually from lack of sleep, bad food, and breathing recycled air. My son’s father had also been quite slender at the same age, so it was likely that his physique was more the result of genetics than the absence of his mother’s cooking. Still, like most mothers, I like to think that I still play a role in the lives of my children, other than being the person who asks those eternally predictable questions about diet, work and lifestyle choices.

I called out his name. He looked in my direction and smiled. At 25, he still had the same smile that he’d had as a little boy. I found it odd that I hadn’t noticed that before. I stepped forward to embrace him, positive that my face was about to split in two; such was the extent of the smile on my own face.

“It’s been too long,” I said, hugging him warmly.

“Yes, way too long,” he agreed.

Tears began pricking my eyes.

“Okay, let’s get a taxi,” I said, trying to get my emotions under check by focusing on practicalities.

My son either didn’t notice or he chose to ignore the ragged sound of my voice.

A few minutes later, as a taxi driver was struggling to fit my son’s luggage into the boot of his vehicle, another taxi driver came forward to give him some advice. Two seconds later, the boot was being slammed shut and we were thanking the Ace Boot Packer for his assistance.

“No problem,” he said. “I used to play a lot of Tetris when I was younger. You know, the computer game where you try to fit different shaped tiles together.”

I laughed. “So, it does have practical applications, after all.”

On the drive home, my son and I talked about the numerous hours that we had both spent on computer games when he was a child. “I think I was addicted to Tetris at one stage,” I confessed.

“Really? I didn’t know that. You were always on my case about the amount of time I spent playing games. I would never have guessed that you were a junkie yourself.”

“I played most of my games after you’d gone to bed. It was my guilty little pleasure for a while.”

I keep reminding myself that my son is no longer a child, and deserves to be treated like an adult, even if it means that he gains insights into his mother’s follies and foibles.

Back home, I’d planned a cooked breakfast for him: bacon, eggs, sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes, hot buttery toast and freshly brewed coffee. But his drooping eyelids told me that sleep would be more welcome than anything I could dish up on a plate.

Two hours later, he was awake and checking out the fridge. “I’m starving,” he said, when I entered the kitchen.

“Great! Let me fix you something,” I said.

Since my son’s arrival, his appetite for everything has increased at a remarkable rate.

To give you an idea, half a large roasted leg of lamb was devoured at two meals, the succulent Mother of All Roast Chickens was consumed at two sittings, a litre of yoghurt lasts a day and a half, and a litre of milk about one day.

Last night, he wolfed down five large sausages at one sitting. “Do you think you might have worms,” I joked afterwards. He just looked at me and smiled his little boy smile.

It’s great to feel like a mother again.

Get more Mary Schneider on Facebook or write to her at star2@thestar.com.my.

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