I missed an opportunity this week to appreciate my relationship with my son. Mr A, Master X and I had arrived early for a doctor appointment at the University of Canberra and were killing some time grabbing a cup of coffee and checking out the significant changes to the university campus. Mr A and I both completed our degrees as well as worked for a period at the university so we have some ten years’ connection to the place. As I walked with our little man’s hand cupped in my deep and protective grasp I thought about how lucky he is to be spending family time at a tertiary institution. I still have a few connections there, although they are dwindling with time. And in this moment of reflection, I missed a moment with these thoughts of what my son is lucky for, rather than noticing what I am lucky for.
I chose this photo because it tells a story beyond a mum and her adventurous little man. Walking together holding hands is something I try not to take for granted. Besides the fact that Mr 20 months is free range and likes to run his own course in life both figuratively and literally, but this moment reminds me of a story. I remember a friend posted a picture of themselves holding their then 3-year-old son’s hand as they walked to the shops one day and he commented on it being one of the sweetest and saddest times as he realised that this would not be a perpetual occurrence and that one day – too soon – his son will no longer want or need to hold his hand. His son, like my little man, will grow older and will come to see hand holding as a sign of weakness, femininity and youthfulness rather than an innate signal of deep affection. Of course they will hold someone’s hand again in the future if they choose to take a partner, but their need with their parent is out of balance, fear, sadness and a range of other emotions. Growing up will run its course and that reach from below to hod our hand will become a rarer and rarer occasion.
On the weekend I saw a son of about eight or ten reach out and hold his dad’s hand as they walked and talked, entwined in this seemingly innate action of love and companionship. It was a moment of deep affection but I could see that it was not wholly natural as they both fumbled, not quite sure if that action was what the other party was intending. They eventually came to grasping hands. They were on a private property and I wondered if they would enact this in a public view. And when I noticed them grasp hands I instinctively took Master X’s hand and held on tighter than I did in the moment pictured. I’m increasingly becoming aware that this time is precious and fleeting and the time to take a moment to appreciate these things, is now.