mardi, mai 24, 2011

Missing him -- already

Here's a question often posed to women that I've never heard asked of a guy: do you identify yourself more as a spouse/partner or as a mother?

This dual role conundrum (add career into the mix, and you have a guilt trifecta) has provoked really heated debate.

I'm unattached right now, and so I put most of my energy into motherhood. But it troubles me when women (who can be tougher on each other than the men who love them) make a totem out of it -- and then set up standards, and compete to see who can do it better.

I have tried to opt out of the mommy wars, more or less successfully -- but I know this -- being a parent shapes my life, and gives it constant meaning. Though circumstances meant I didn't become a mother until around a decade after most couples had begun their families, it is one place in my life where I am not ambivalent.

Today I feel a minor, but persistent ache, as though a slice of wood had gotten under the skin of my foot. I limp a little.

Last night I went for a walk with my youngest child, the young man who is already inches taller than me. Walks are our time to catch up, an opportunity for him to share what's on his mind. Sometimes he'll tell me about friends, often about what he is learning in history class, and occasionally about girls.

He still wants my hugs, the glass of water when he gets into bed, my presence right before he falls asleep. Since he was small, he's had a higher need for touch then my 16-year-old girl. His dad isn't big on physical contact, but our boy told me last night he's "doing better." On evenings Mr. C is at his house, they go upstairs-- seated on a bed, they share tomorrow's schedule (guys!!!) and then a hug.

That seems to make both of them happy.

Sometimes something profound comes out unexpectedly.

A few nights ago we were coming home from youth group, all of us tired, knowing that morning would come fast. Not a time for deep insights. But the boy told me he'd been thinking about my brother, who died, many years ago, aged 29. Jonathan deserved to be remembered, and his nephew wondered what he would have done, or been.

Imagine how you would have felt.

He's only away on a three-day trip to Boston. He was excited, enthusiastic, anticipating sharing a room with his best friend.

Together, with three other boys, they try to uphold their status as class wiseacres. He'll have much opportunity as he and his pals view Lexington, attend a concert, and see the mill town, Lowell -- the trip is expensive (and yes, this is public school), and very tightly structured.

I dropped him off at 4:45 by the sidedoor. At home, as he suggested, we'd already done our "formal" goodbye--a hug in the kitchen. Quickly he opened the car door, and was gone through the pre-sunrise fog.

Driving past the main parking lot, I saw the buses, and a number of cars. I supposed I could have sat in my car, and waited for them to take off. But as I turned left onto the street, trying to get up enough energy to wake up another sleeping child, I thought -- what is it going to be like to say goodbye when he goes to college?

A lot of parenting is about learning to let go, and mature enough so that you do it with grace.

Thank God I have, hmmm, more than five years to find out. I still have a lot of growing up to do.

2 commentaires:

BigLittleWolf a dit…

I read this yesterday, twice. And thought about it. And here I am again. It's an interesting (and complex) question - and I don't think I identify myself "exclusively" as any one thing, but as a varying mix of roles at different times.

Because I was mid-30s when I married, I was very much an independent "self" before becoming wife or mother. I think I identified myself as a learning woman - odd though that may sound. I know think of myself as a writing woman. And a mother. And one who is curious and loves and thinks.

Hardly a direct answer, but as my own sons have pulled away into their (necessary) independence - physically and emotionally - I've realized how much mothering is part of me, part of my steel and my purpose, but "me" as a woman and a writer?

Still very much here. Always here.

Offcenter a dit…

A "learning woman." I love that, BLW. And you/we bring what you have learned as a mother into your life as a woman and as a writer, too, don't you/we? I think that learning is true for dads, too, as I read posts from the Good Men Project.