Lately, my sons have refused invitations or eagerly accepted them but then not followed through, while simultaneously (along with their father) they make increasingly unconscious demands on my time and energy; so that yesterday, I found myself walking to the pond, feeling sorry for myself, absent of the sweet company I so desired/deserved; and these thoughts continued with me down the road, across the brook, up the hill and down the path through the woods to the water’s grassy edge, where they slipped away with asana under the morning sun, until I found myself supine on the dock in a gentle spinal twist, looking up at the needles of a tall pine with whom I’ve communed for so many years–through so many seasons of my life–and hers–ice storms and snow storms and early springs and fair autumns (skipping high summer when the campers are here)–And in that moment I felt the steady friendship of her branches extended toward me and the strength of her deep roots sustaining our connection, and I realized how I would never be alone, not really, even when both boys are gone; and I thought about how often men forsake not only the women in their lives, but the earth, and how that brings women and the earth closer together, and aren’t we better for it; and then, something else:
I consider it part of my parting duty to impart beach culture to my mountain grown sons.
Lose the hikers.
Let the hair become wild with humidity.
Get sand… everywhere.
Let it stay.
Smell the air.
Feel the spray.
Sample slices until you find the best pizza.
Welcome the fog. The rain. Let it all be one.
Thick hoodies. Leisurely breakfasts. Coffee. Music. Chaos.
Beach chairs. Flip flops. Fudge.
Salt water taffy. Beer bottles. Bar flies. Bare feet. Sunburn.
Shellfish. Sandcastles. Donuts. Surf shops.
Waves. Seagulls. Lifeguards. Sunsets.
Who knew that the blues could speak to mothers, but they do…
I tried to get a head start on this empty nest thing years ago when my son first entered adolescence. I thought if I wrote about it, ahead of it all, it would be easier, like having an epidural. But47 posts on Teens later, I still feel the pain of this impending separation.
I feel it when I shop for his toiletries. I feel it when I kiss him goodnight. I feel it when I look at his younger brother, who has just turned 13 himself.
It’s too early to pour a glass of chardonnay so I turn toward the issue of laundry. My 18 year old’s laundry. At college.
For days now, I’ve been plagued with worry…
What kind of laundry basket should he have at school?
What would serve as an inviting receptacle, and also a means of transport to the laundry room, and then back again, folded, to be placed in drawers?
This preoccupation of mine is odd for so many reasons, but mainly because:
I stopped doing my son’s laundry when he was 5,
and because my son currently leaves his clothes strewn across the floor,
washes them only when he needs underwear,
(or when he can’t afford to buy any more shirts,)
and then leaves his clean laundry in the washer–for hours,
followed by the dryer–for days,
Until it is coaxed along by strident parental pleas,
after which he leaves it in the laundry basket,
Until someone else needs the basket,
and grumbling, dumps the laundry on his bed,
Where it Remains…
Until it slides back onto the floor
Whence it came.
“Why don’t we wait until I get there and see what I works?” my son says.
He was always practical like this, even as a toddler. (It’s annoying.)
I’ll never forget the first time he called me on my parental misguided-ness:
This original Mothers Day Proclamation from 1870 in Boston is particularly poignant for mothers of sons.
Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears! Say firmly:
“We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: “Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace…
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God –
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.
I’ve been horizontal for three days–hit hard with a stomach bug. This morning, when my 14 year old stops in my room to see if he can call a friend, I ask him to (please) go downstairs and get me an Advil. And do you know what he says?!
I can’t right now Mom. I’m doing something else.
He can’t right now, he’s doing something else??? Can you believe he had the gall to say that to the woman who conceived him (with difficulty), carried him (with complication) and birthed him (by emergency caesarean)?
What about the first five years of his life when I nursed him through countless colds, bouts of bronchitis, the occasional pneumonia and the incidence of pleurisy? (Who has even heard of that last one!?)
Not to mention, all the rides to school, to friends, to events…
Of course, I could write a book about just WHY he absolutely HAS to get me an Advil the second I ask–and within moments of my TIRADE on that subject, he did just that–and later today he didn’t blink twice when I made another request.
Is this a teenage thing or a boy thing, I wonder? I’m guessing it’s largely gender based with a teenage twist.
I remember my sister Michelle telling me about the time her head was in the toilet with morning sickness. Her daughter placed a wet washcloth on her neck, while her son asked her repeatedly if he could play Nintendo.
I had a similar experience this summer when I sliced my finger on a garden slate. Just as I felt myself beginning to pass out (a first for me), I yelled to my boys to get me a homeopathic for trauma upon which my teenager spilled the bottle on the floor.
Instead of just giving me one, he repeatedly asked what he should do with the ones on the floor. With an ashen face and the room spinning, I tried to give him a look that said, “Is that relevant right now?” but he just kept on asking.
What is it about the male psyche that can make them oblivious to what is going on inside another? Probably the same thing that makes my husband look at me suggestively when I have barely eaten in three days.
This is the same guy who encouraged me to “send the baby to the Nursery” after our home birth was transferred to the hospital.
“We need our sleep, that’s what it’s there for…” the traitor said before dozing off, leaving me holding our newborn after 8 hours of labor and a c-section to boot.
To be fair, my husband takes good care of me, bringing me tea and apple sauce and crackers. Hopefully his tenderness will rub off on my boys by the time they’ve become husbands and fathers themselves.
(How about you? Do your sons or daughters take good care of you?)