My son is home. Bringing his facial hair along, I might add.
If you have a small boy, take a minute to smooch his smooth and slightly chubby cheeks. Eventually mutation will occur and something akin to the Incredible Hulk, even if it’s short or skinny, will come bursting from your baby. That’s as it should be, but still puzzling to mothers. We remember their little soft necks.
For better or worse, one can’t rely on wistful memories of toddler tummies to ensure good parenting of adult children. Those big grown ups in your living room present you with new issues. Some you could have foreseen, some surprises.
This summer I look forward to several months spent with my son. I plan to teach him life skills, to prepare him for college graduation next year. For example, cooking. I also want to institute the “Floors Are For Walking On Not For Storing Your Clothes” program.
His future plans include a vagabond couple of years. I find that vagabonds are welcome guests if they can cook you dinner and clean up after themselves. He’s already very good at saying please and thank you. A moment of self-congratulations for having gotten that bit nailed down early.
For myself, because with adult children you do, finally, get to have goals for yourself in the relationship, I want to keep moving towards authenticity. Towards using a voice of one adult to another. Never forgetting, of course, that one adult is the other one’s mother.
After the divorce, I lost my nerve. I want it back.
What I mean to say is that in years past, once I survived the early, overwhelming, figuring it out, stage of parenting, I was a fairly calm mother. I felt I knew what I was doing, that I had done the absolute best I could. I felt I was justified in what I asked of my children, and comfortable in what I provided.
The divorce threw a wrench into those works. My guilt and sense of loss undermined my mother confidence.
I want it back.
In the years after the divorce I held my breath. Tried to give my kids room to recover. But I know that one never fully recovers. One just chooses the path one is on. I think it’s time for me to speak again like a mother who believes she has done right. At least I hope so. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I look forward to teaching my son to cook. It’s knowledge I know will be useful.
I might also learn to stop burning my arms, currently blotched with red welts from hot splashing coconut oil. I might invest in good oven mitts.
At the same time, I hope my personal agenda stays just out of sight. Of course, since my son reads this blog, I’ve blown my cover just a bit. First point, authenticity. But I don’t want any big And Now I Am Becoming Myself drama. Too embarrassing. I’d rather just stand a little more stable on my own ground every minute and then the next. Hit my marks. I imagine them like the tracks of a vacuum cleaner in carpet.
As the mom your first responsibility is constancy. But you have to also make sure that the inner self never gets left behind. This can be difficult, given all the work of constancy. It’s OK. It isn’t perfect. We can clean up after ourselves.
There is simply no book, no lesson plan, no methodology. All we’ve got is our willingness to pay attention and the twin gifts of feet. Security and mobility. Stand comfortably, shuffle to the left, stand comfortably.
Have a wonderful weekend.