Mother-Son Dance

By Erika Hoffman

The first time I watched a child of mine before the altar say, “I do,” I wondered where all the time I was supposed to have with him, as my son and I as his mom, had gone. In my mind, the years, like pages of a calendar fluttering by in a gust of wind, reeled past as I watched him kneeling next to a red-headed beauty in layers of white. I knit my brow trying to recall the day he started kindergarten. Did I cry then as I returned to the car without him? I squinted at the crucifix above the priest as I searched my memory for recollections of his baptism. I gazed at my husband’s bowed head and pondered what he was thinking now as our son married.

Random thoughts galloped by as I tried to corral them and listen to the Catholic priest’s message. I remembered when I got a call from his brother Henry telling me the ambulance had just picked Erik up after Erik’s friend, horse-playing, pushed him through the plate glass window in our den. In the emergency room, Erik didn’t cry as I stared down at the Harry Potter gash with blood oozing across his forehead. After watching the blood pump out of the wound in time with Erik’s heartbeat, his brother hurriedly skirted out of the room before he fainted. “Tell Daddy I’m sorry about the window,” Erik said, as his sister reached for his hand. Next, I thought about this young man as a ten-year-old coming home from summer camp with an eye infection which caused a trip to the ophthalmologist to have the abscess removed. He didn’t complain. I remembered the shower door closing on his finger and the mole removal from his stomach. He never whimpered.

Then, I thought about his second-grade teacher coming to me and saying that Erik was in a fight with the class bully who had bullied Erik’s friend. The bully was larger than Erik. Happily, Erik came out unscathed. I recalled Dad telling me about taking Erik to Europe with him, and although Erik was only nine and the other kids vacationing with their grandparents were much older, Dad glowed as he stated emphatically that Erik was the leader of the pack. I remember Erik at age 14 accepting my idea to pull him out of public school to take him to a more demanding prep school, even though he’d miss his many friends he’d known since babyhood.

Now, I was here in the front pew at his wedding. It seemed out of order. Erik is the third born of four. Our oldest child, a son, consumed our attention, the attention of both sets of grandparents, the attention of neighbors, friends and community. Our second son excelled at school, sports and popularity. He was verbally aggressive at the dinner table. He was confident in all things. Our girl was our baby – pampered, pretty, fashionably dressed. Some might say spoiled, a princess. This boy child now leaving us for a bride, a life of his own, remained the quiet one – the kid who wanted to help us, who didn’t cause a ruckus, who had few demands.

I felt I barely knew him. At 25, about to take a vow, he’d no longer be my baby boy. He was another woman’s man. Was I ready?

As I clutched my son and moved my heavy feet while listening to Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World,” I thought how Mother-Son wedding dances last interminably, and yet raising a son from infancy to manhood whizzes by in the blink of a wet eye.

About this writer

  • Erika Hoffman

    Erika Hoffman

    Erika Hoffman pens many essays about what might seem like mundane occurrences but upon reflection, she always finds a story in them worth telling – at least in her eyes.

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14 Responses to “Mother-Son Dance”

  1. Nancy says:

    He may have taken a princess but you will always be his queen!

  2. Lois Bartholomew says:

    I totally relate to this, Erika. It is so hard to give up a child, even when it is on such a joyous occasion. Well written.

  3. Maureen O'Brien says:

    Beautiful and touching, Erika. Well done!
    Certainly resonated with me!

  4. Thanks for stirring my own memories with your well told story.

  5. Jamie Weeks says:

    Love this! Well said, Erika. My son is the middle child, neither the “shining first born” nor the spoiled princess, baby, but I am foolish over him in a way that I cannot describe nor understand. He is my son- from the always busy building, cotton-topped toddler to the studious PhD candidate- and nothing is sweeter than taking his arm when we are out together. ❤️

  6. Lisa Tomey says:

    What a beautiful portrayal.

  7. Emily says:

    What a beautiful photo and touching synopsis of fleeting moments that bring a lifetime of memories. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I know these feelings so well, Erika!

  9. As the mother of sons with three grandsons, I can identify.

  10. Eileen Williams says:

    This made me want to tear up. It is hard to reflect and see all of things that went by so fast. We can’t get them back! Loved this one!

  11. Rose Ann says:

    This brought tears to my eyes as I re-visited all those memories and emotions. Beautifully written, Erika.

  12. Lilia Klee says:

    Lovely and honest piece on letting go of sons.

  13. Cora Brown says:

    Every woman who has ever watched her son walk down the aisle can relate to this beautiful piece. Thanks for stirring up some wonderful memories.

  14. margaret w de st aubin says:

    What I wonderful story about an amazing son and wonderful mother-son dance! I’d forgotten we danced to the same song with our sons who are just a few days apart. What a wonderful world!

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