The other day someone asked me how old my children are,
I answered 17 and nearly 15.
“You’re almost done,” he remarked.
“I’ll never be done,” I answered.
Later, when I thought about this conversation the truth
struck me in a fierce way. I will never, ever be done.
I will always be their mama to infinity and beyond.
When my kids were younger I wanted to instill grand ideas; how to be a kind person, how to have empathy, how to be honest, how to have good manners. They were so little and I was so adamant.
Now they are teenagers.
My ideas have changed. I remind them to wear coats, I remind them to eat. I remind them that mistakes happen, sometimes, big mistakes happen. What path is to be taken after making those mistakes? What wise choices make themselves available? Will they avail?
Be happy, not necessarily behaved. (but don’t get arrested)
Be strong, not necessarily compliant. (but don’t get expelled)
Be true to yourself, not to society’s expectations. (but don’t break your curfew)
This part of parenting, this evolution and expansion of thought makes me wince and smile and stare out windows with glassy half-closed eyes in the midnight solitude.
Before I had kids, I knew exactly what kind of mother I wanted to be. I knew the rules, I knew the consequences. As the years go by, I know less and less. Who’s rules do I follow? What really are the consequences?
How can I know less now than I knew then?
Make mistakes, take chances. (but be safe)
Take a risk, don’t always take the safe way out. (but be wise)
Strike out a new path. (but don’t forget where you came from)
Of course, it’s just a matter of what I thought I knew. Now I really know, that I don’t know anything.
Slicing into an orange, the juice misting
the hairs on my arm, twinkling under
the kitchen light, lighting my senses;
I remember watching my mother
a Zen-like procedure, ripe with anticipation,
with desire, drift like a moist halo
around my head.
In slow motion, my thoughts linger over the image; her hands, the glint on the silver knife, the woodgrain on the handle, the perfect orb bursting with liquid gold, the pungent smell, teasing and tickling my nose.
I am eight again.
“Are you even listening? Have you heard anything I’ve said?”
“Yes” I say, “I’m sorry bud.”