I called at the agreed time. A quarter past the hour, just as we’d said. After last week’s last minute mind games and a broken promise of an extra hour, I was expecting more issues. He does this regularly – changing times, saying they’re with someone else, that they don’t want to talk.
I braced myself.
It wasn’t bright or cheerful, but it was my beautiful son with his beautiful voice. He was guarded – he usually is these days – fallout from last week’s unanticipated-by-both-of-us change in schedule. I was updated on learning, on achievements, on weather.
I listened to them intently, savoring their words and drinking in the tones of their voices. I could swear I caught a new depth to my son’s timbre, a more mature sound quality I hadn’t noticed before.
Would I pick these up if I were raising them instead of having weekly calls like a distant relative? Would I notice that slight descent into a more boyish tone? They both have such beautiful voices, I wonder if I was there every day if I could encourage them to sing more often. My beautiful boys performing like two little Pinyeles – I would be so proud.
I would be proud of them if they learned their whole lives. I would be proud if they sang. Danced. Became clowns. I would be proud of them to be inventors, to learn a new culture or language, to go to business school. My love isn’t contingent on them doing what I think they should do.
People in the velt, in my former kehillo, would suggest that I want nothing more than to turn them away from Hashem. That I want to damage their precious neshamos. I hope they don’t listen to this, the times over and over they hear how horrible I am.
A year ago, my son told me that I wasn’t Jewish anymore. He was genuinely concerned that it would render him unJewish and my perfect yingerlech would be kicked out of cheider. How do you tell a boy so young that the fear they instil is only something to keep him controlled? That the belief system he follows doesn’t mean he can’t love the woman who gave birth to him?
I want nothing more than their happiness. I want nothing more than to hear the beautiful sounds of their beautiful voices every waking minute of the day.
But I know my time is limited. Clock minutes count down to a time when they won’t speak to me anymore. When I won’t hear the changes in their voices because those voices will be silent to the woman who gave birth to them.
For now, I just focus on the beautiful sounds. Tomorrow isn’t here. Yet.