Posted in Mid-Life Mama, Milestone Moments, New Mother, Teens

Resenting Motherhood

Photo0283Last week, my seventeen year-old son broke his toe in a game of frisbee. Suddenly he was home, on the couch, instead of at school or at work or out with friends; and he wanted my connection and support.

I treasured this gift of time with him, but I also resented it; and I’m not sure why.

…Maybe it’s because he already takes so much for granted, making any additional requests outlandish.

…Maybe it’s because the last time that I really needed him–when my husband and I were simultaneously struck down by the flu–he abandoned me, following days and nights of tenderly caring for him;

Both of these points are accurate, and miss the point. I know this because the body doesn’t lie.
And mine’s been screaming.
Up the right side of my rib cage.

So I show up.
Here.
On this blog.
And listen:

…I feel angry.

…I feel my father’s rage–with me–when I was my son’s age.

…We fought about bedtimes and laundry and who was the boss–but what we were really engaged in–is the excruciating shedding of roles.

I must be shedding now too. My skin has been itchy for weeks. Maybe ever since my son decided upon a college.

But I don’t focus on that. I narrow in on his increasing lack of respect, contribution, consideration and caring.

“If you weren’t my son, I’d break up with you,” I say.

“Why?” he asks, sounding concerned.

“Because I would never let another man treat me this way.”

“How do I treat you?” he asks, sounding hurt.

And then I realize,

…We aren’t living in the same world,

…Or speaking the same language,

…Or seeing the same things anymore.

This isn’t fair!

Fairness is where I always get stuck.

How is it fair that he sleeps here (all day), and eats here (some of the time) and relies on us and our provision in so many ways, but so easily dismisses what we need: like respect for our resources and time and patience by not using 6 towels in one week and leaving them scattered on his floor, wet, among candy wrappers and clothing and god knows what else, and then calls me from school to go look for something he left behind.

“Just don’t look in the bottom drawer, Mom.”

(I do.)

Ironically, he has chosen a college room-mate based on this characteristic: “I just can’t live with someone who is going to trash our place.”

(This makes me want to cackle and curse him with the sloppiest room-mate on Earth.)

Oh! And last month, when he took OUR car to Canada with his buddies, he cleaned it from top to bottom–BEFORE they left; and returned it… you know how.

And work? He gives them 150%.

And even with an injury, he can’t miss his game this afternoon to pick up his brother so that I can go to the doctors for this excruciating pain on my right side–the pain that won’t let me bend forward or backward or even turn side to side; even though we dropped everything to help him with his… toe.

I get it. I do. I know he’s transferring all of his good nature, his passion, his consideration–to the world outside of his family; but does he have to be so cliché?

I’ve parented out of the box these past years; can’t he grow up out of it too?

He just called.
He forgot his sneakers.
Could I drop them off on my way to the doctor’s appointment (the one that I had to arrange alternate coverage for) so that he doesn’t have to wear his hikers to “watch” his game?

…Seriously?

It does no good to point out the absurdity of his request. I am in a one-sided relationship. Only he isn’t a bundle of joy gazing lovingly into my eyes like the sun rises and sets on my face.  Nope, I am the dark cloud obstructed his obliviously sunny sky. Unless he needs something. Then he pours it on. And I feel like a door mat.

(I leave the sneakers behind.)

But if I really listen to the pain in my ribcage, the one that makese it hard to breath,  there’s something more…

…That evening, when he was home, in the living room, like he used to be, and he asked me to come over to the couch so that he could show me something on his computer; and I sighed, put down my work, and shimmied in beside him, something happened…

…As he hit play, my attention narrowed, not on the screen, but to…

…Our bodies

…Touching.

From shoulder to foot, I felt the heat of his body and mine; and in a flash, I remembered everything… the longing I felt for him to come into my life, the preciousness of his growth inside my belly, the tenderness with which I anticipated his newborn needs, the day-to-day companionship of our early years at home together.

I felt a stabbing pain in my third eye as I returned my attention to the computer in front of me where my 17 year-old was sharing a cover of one of our favorite songs, sung by a group of Norwegians (with bad haircuts):

I noticed that we raised our eyebrows at just the same time, and then grinned in the same moments, and then turned toward each other and nodded, just as the voice of the last vocalist swept it away.

I always thought of this song as epic, as biblical, as archetypal–between a man and love. But today, I hear a mother’s story. And I feel the excruciating finality of what has been a soul-consuming journey…

Maybe there’s a god above
And all I ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you

And it’s not a cry you can hear at night,
It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Motherhood is such holy work, and I fail, again and again, to keep the sacred front and center. I was good at holding onto him when he needed that, but I’m not sure how to let go; or at least how to do both at the same time…

But baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
You know, I used to live alone before I knew ya

And I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
And love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

What do I do when that little boy, who held my hand and talked to me about life: “Where do faces go when we die? Does the sun know everything?” “Can I marry you when I grow up?” reappears beside me, with thick hairy legs, and a voice deeper than his father’s…

Well your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya

She tied you to her kitchen chair
And she broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

This is labor, I think.
This is the ripping apart of two souls.
Just as it was at birth…

There was a time
You let me know
What’s real and going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?

And remember when I moved in you?
The holy dark was moving to
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

I remember the first time he moved in me, and how we became one, until he grew so large inside that he began to press under that same right rib, until it hurt so badly that I could hardly breath, and I wanted him gone, and when he was, I ached that he was no longer there, inside me…

Well I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?

Well it goes like this:
The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I love you, Lloyd. I’m so sad you’re gone. I can’t believe you’re still here. I don’t know how to live without you. I don’t know how to live with you. I don’t know how to let you go and love you at the same time.

But I’ll keep trying.

Kelly Salasin, Mothers Day 2013

ps. Dad, sorry for playing the piano that night beneath your bedroom.

Posted in Fragile Life, Insight, Mid-Life Mama, Milestone Moments, Teens

Two Paths Diverged

I was relieved to find myself awake at 3:00 am in order to realize that the tragedy of what I had enacted was only a dream.  But that didn’t help me shake the trauma.

After checking to make sure that my son was safely asleep in his bed, I reluctantly woke my husband to soften the burden of my nightmare.  Even now, it hurts to retell it.

We had pimped our younger son so that we could attend some affair. It was only a single time and we were paid well for it, but the anguish on my ten year old’s face afterward was heartbreaking; and when I put him in the shower to wash away the disgrace, he complained of a sharp pain that felt like a knife in his buttocks.

What were we thinking,” I hissed to my husband.  “We could go to jail.  How could we do something like this?”

Larionov,visipix.com

This is so far from any reality that my husband and I would ever create, but that doesn’t matter.  The dream was that strong.

No one needed to interpret this one.  We both knew what it meant, right away.  I had a job interview in the morning, and I was afraid of what this new position would mean for our family–particularly my younger son.

I finally drifted back into a troubled sleep around 5:00 am; this time dreaming of my teen.

I had returned home to see him, realizing that I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to connect; but no matter how I tried I couldn’t find him in the house.

There were escalators and staircases and doors, but just as I arrived to the place where he would be, his friends told me that I had missed him.  He had left in the time that it took me to get here.

Isn’t it convenient when our dreams are so transparent? Isn’t it terrifying when we realize just how deeply we our connected to our kids–and how fragile that connection can be?

The funny thing is that I’ve always worked.  I’ve just never found a position that might capture my heart and soul in a way that has me looking toward the future–without them.

This is the tenth post that I’ve written in ten days around the tectonic shifts this consideration has evoked in me.  All of these are posted on my Life Path series, but this post distinctly belonged here.

Gaugin, visipix.com

This post is about saying goodbye to one rich role in exchange for another.  It’s not a goodbye that will happen today or next week or even next year; but the seed has been planted and the roots are digging deep, and I’ve always known, that this love story, of mother and son, would some day diverge on different paths.

Kelly Salasin, November 2010

Click: TWO OWLS CALLING, for my blog on my personal path.