Power equals Autonomy

I’ve said before, how much I like my Pocket. At the moment I have three separate emails in my inbox because I won’t delete them until I’ve read the story or stories that catch my eye. On this pleasant Easter Sunday afternoon, I propped myself on a stack of pillows in my bed for some leisurely reading. As I scrolled down the list of headline in the first Pocket email, this jumped out at me, People Want Power Because They Want Autonomy. It is a fascinating article about a study of why people want more power in their workplace. It got me thinking.

The other day I was emailing a friend and we spoke briefly about building escape routes. Using my 20/20 hindsight, I sighed, “Escape routes are important.”. Today as I read this article, I realized that it isn’t an escape route I’m wanting, it’s autonomy.

Through a series of decisions made over the past twenty-plus years, I’ve given away my autonomy a piece at a time. I’ve traded it for feelings, for acceptance, to make others happy or comfortable, for sex, for my children and because I believed it was the right thing to do. Let me be very clear here, it was all my choice.

Truly, I never gave my own autonomy a second thought, until I realized I had none. I had nothing of my own left. Yes, I run a household and my kids think I have the power,if they only knew.

I made the choice to stay home when my first child was born. I gave up a lucrative job in a burgeoning branch of corporate travel, one that has gone on to become vital in many global corporations. It was a job I greatly enjoyed, but I adored my son and in my culture at the time, I received heaps of positive reinforcement for my decision. In the intervening years I’ve done good by my kids; I love my kids. Imagine my surprise, when I discovered a few years ago that I, a loving, giving, kind person, despised myself.

tired-377438_1280
Not me, but boy do I recognize the look on her face.

My kids aren’t babies anymore, they range in age from 9-16. They need something different from me now. They no longer need me to be in the house, to sit on the couch and give them bottles, to teach them to walk, to talk, to not be afraid of raindrops and thunder. Now they need me to keep up, to be around when needed, to chauffeur, to listen, to buy them stuff and model for them what successful adulthood looks like.

It’s that last part that gets me. I have two daughters. One beautiful boy and two young impressionable daughters. I don’t worry so much about the boy. My kids have a hard-working dad, one who takes seriously his responsibility to them, is straight as an arrow and strives to be an example of temperate living.  The boy will be fine.

The girls, they have a great example in their dad, but what about my example? What am I teaching my girls about living a full life? Those of you who know me, won’t be surprised to hear the name of Richard Armitage here. You might be giggling, that’s okay. He helped me understand that the joy is having something to share, something of yourself to share. I believe my girls need to see me filled with joy and having so much to share. Not joy that comes from them; joy that comes from me. I am a separate being from them, a whole other person with thoughts and hopes they have not imagined. I want them to see me, to know me. Not just as mom, not just as a facilitator to their dreams, but as a woman they are lucky to know and associate with every day.

My mom died eighteen months ago. This April 4th would have been her 78th birthday. When she died, she was only my mother. I didn’t realize the great disservice it was until my siblings and I found that so much of what we have left are unanswered questions. Who was this beautiful woman?

mom1
Mom

I will make many more mistakes in my life. Some will affect my children directly. In the dark of the night I worry they won’t like me as a person. But in the end, it’s my life, and that’s what I want for them to see. It’s their life and it should matter to them most of all.

Wonder Woman!

She was without a doubt my favorite part of the new Superman Vs Batman movie. And that’s saying something when you’ve got your choice between two totally ripped men to ogle. I even loved the retro sounding theme they played for her. It immediately took me back to Saturday morning Justice League cartoons. As soon as the music started playing and she crossed her wrists…that’s right, you know exactly what I’m talking about, I was a kid again.

662e5bb4fb7a33893e23e7b6012ab274

I don’t keep track of all the chatter around these movies but I had heard some rumblings about Gal Gadot’s  very un-Amazonian figure but I have to say, so? The woman was a lean, mean fighting machine and I lapped it up. She is beautiful, strong, intelligent and brave and I’m not going to hold it against her that all that work shows. I thought she was, well, wonderful. I even got to see her use the magic lasso.

I was prepared to let my mind wander during this rather long film, you know, get some writing done in my head while I waited for the good parts.

It never happened.

It’s been months since I’ve sat through a movie in a theater and my mind hasn’t wandered once. Last night I was glued to the screen, immersed in the story. I loved every minute of it.

For those of you hesitating because of some critical review, well, if you haven’t learned by now (shrugs). I’m going to go see it again, I want to see Affleck’s workout one more time and then get chills all over again as Wonder Woman charges in and the Bat and the Super hero look on in awe.

 

Friday

 

It’s snowing. On my spring break, it’s snowing.IMG_0843
Maybe that’s why the kids and I are feeling lazy today.

Yesterday it was 59 degrees Fahrenheit. I took the girls swimming and watched them jump the hell out of the diving board, it was glad to see us leave; we went out to lunch and stopped at Hobby Lobby to look for a giant teddy bear. We didn’t find the teddy bear but all their spring stuff was 40% off and we found a giant metal sun to hang on the front door.

IMG_0846

these mermaids

IMG_0851

a couple of Beanie Boos

IMG_0852

and some spatulas that you can imagine.

We barely got out of there for under $100. We should not be allowed in that store unless we are escorted by a verified left-brainer.

By the time we got home, we were tired and a bit snippy with each other. However, the sun was shining and we were in our shirtsleeves, with all our doors and windows open.

It’s easy to be optimistic on beautiful days in NoDak.

fhjlg

But not so much today.

The girls and I talked about going to the movie, I considered, briefly, scrubbing carpets, but we all settled on letting me write in mostly undisturbed bliss. So her we sit, all still in our warm fuzzy pajamas, wrapped in fleece blankets, all on different electronic devices; the silence disturbed every once in awhile by the boy, cursing the Bonneville Salt Flats as he races his virtual Lamborghini Murcielago across it’s salty crust. He’s talking on his earbuds to his best friend who is racing with him, linked up by the magic of wireless.

To some this may be snapshot of a world gone very wrong. But on a cold snowy day with the wind rattling the windows, we are enjoying being all together in the same room, happily doing what we each enjoy. Like a good, pain in the ass, mom, there are days when I require everyone’s participation in a game at the dinner table, or all electronics off by seven or some other onerous requirement.

Today is not that day.

Later on I will go out to the new Superman Vs Batman movie, yes, despite the critics. I like Zack Snyder. He made 300, I’ll always give him another chance to make me smile.

Embed from Getty Images

I’ve discovered that most times the critics widely pan a movie, I know I’m going to LOVE it! So, if you get there before me, save me the seat closest to the middle and I like butter on my large popcorn….

 

I was a good wife

until I couldn’t be, and last night I felt a little less alone in my own mind and heart.

Last night I watched the latest episode of The Good Wife. I love that show, I love the writing, I love the characters, and I love their struggles. Last night I heard two different lines come out of Alicia Florrick’s mouth, things I have spoken myself, almost word for word. Then there was the heartbreaking moment when the man she is seeing, Jason, shows up in a restaurant kissing another woman. It hurts her.

She asks her best friend, Luca, “Why does it even matter, I didn’t want to marry him, didn’t want to tie him down.” She admits she has issues with this, men lying and cheating on her, thanks to her husband. As she tries to understand why she’s upset, like all of the best friends around the world, Luca, points out that Alicia isn’t in tears and that brings a fresh smile to Alicia’s face. She’s made progress.

It gets better when Jason comes to apologize.

Payback

“I think, I think that I offended you.” Jason says.

He says the exact thing I said a week ago. I wish a writer had given the man I spoke to his lines.

Alicia stops him right there, saying, “I’m an adult. I know it may not look like it from this pizza, but I am.” She goes on, not allowing him to explain his supposed offense and with her open heart welcomes him back as though he’d never stepped into shadow.

She managed to do something I haven’t yet accomplished. She figured out how to get what she wanted in spite of thinking that wasn’t who she was. Does that mean she changed who she was or that she finally accepted herself as she is?

Towards the end of the show, as she is unzipping his fly under the table, in a very public place, she whispers to him, “I wasted the last twenty years; I’m not going to waste the next twenty.”

I know exactly what she means, uttering those words, and what she doesn’t. She doesn’t mean she regrets the last twenty years, the love she had, the children she mothered, the experiences she’s survived. What she regrets is not being true to herself along the way, to her own needs and desires, she regrets putting herself dead last among all the humanity she served. She doesn’t say it to denigrate anything she’s done but to spell out what is going to happen next. Almost a warning to those listening, my time has now begun. Let me say very clearly here, that those past twenty years, will make the next twenty so much sweeter, or sour, or savory, but she’ll decide that for herself.

For Shame

Today I partook in an unanticipated bit of spring-cleaning. It started out as a straightforward cleaning of the kitchen and dining room. The kitchen was a snap, and I moved quickly to straightening and sorting the accumulated piles of papers on my dining table, which led me to the family computer desk and the massive pile of papers to be dealt with later. Later turned out to be today, and this led to cleaning out the single file drawer I have because there were a few papers I needed to file and not sufficient room to do so. In the end, I filled two kitchen garbage bags stuffed to the brim with shredded paper.

This little piece survived the massacre.

image1
My scribbles and my ND State Fair water bottle, yes, I paid $2.00 to refill that sucker!

I pulled it from somewhere in or possibly behind the file drawer; it’s at least five years old. I was sorting quickly but my own handwriting caught my attention and the words at the top, I saw you, stopped the movement toward the shredder. I shifted it aside, into the file again pile before giving myself too much time to think about it. Finishing the job, I barked at my son when he asked a harmless question and ran away to my bathroom to hide and take it down a notch.
I’ve come back to my computer this evening and pulled it out of the slim file sitting by my open laptop. Surrounded by chocolate eggs, writing notebooks, scraps of papers I’ve scribbled on at work, my Ipod and other detritus of writing, it appears harmless. However, this hastily scribbled page requires a little bit of back-story.
I was adopted when I was two days old. I have seven siblings, also adopted. Of the eight of us, six were adopted at four months of age or younger, the other two were four years old and eight years old. We were purchased in two sets, the first four adopted in the early seventies, the second four in the early eighties.

kids first four
The First Four
2nd four
The Second Four

Any discussion about adoption between siblings is a mixed bag of emotion best served with much laughter, tears, strong drinks and some crunchy comfort carbs. My mother’s death sixteen months ago has managed to both intensify and simultaneously free the discussion. You see, most of the stories revolve around her, as do the scribbles on this paper.

6adeb6892dc3a6e1d9fa8a0a1cf9b9ad

 

My sisters and I have spoken more than once about writing the truth about adoption, as we lived it. Partially in response to a novel, my father wrote, of the life he enjoyed which none of us recognized and partly in hope that somewhere there are adoptive parents that might read it and recognize the need to ask for professional help. What follows is a stream of consciousness, written after one such discussion. It’s harsh, hard for even me to read, almost feels like speaking evil of the dead. However, you see, sometimes it’s important that shameful things are spoken.

I saw you, banging a child’s head against a wall in rage and I learned that children aren’t safe in their own homes.
I heard you scream obscenities at your husband and slam doors in his face and learned anger is more powerful than sanity.
I watched you break a hairbrush over my brother’s head, a wooden spoon across his back and a yardstick across his bottom and learned that childish frivolity was bad.
We stood by as you smashed a stack of plates on the kitchen floor and then demanded we clean up the mess you blamed on us and I learned the truth didn’t matter if you were big.
You left my defenseless younger siblings at home with a known child molester and I learned that religion meant more than common sense.

kids and mom

My mother did her best in later years to make amends, in some cases, for things she could not even remember. In the months since her death, I have thought more and more of telling our story, the children’s story. It is a real story, with laughter and pain, joy and sorrow, suffering and release. It is not a re-telling of the highest peaks in a life but rather a diary of the slog through the ruts, across the rivers, up the hills and down again, with some pleasant stops along the way. Crossing paths with these scribbled thoughts, I am once again caught in the boiling river of memory, the fast moving water, some bits over my head, other shallow places and rocks to break against.

To be continued…

You Look Marvelous, Darling

I read an article today that intimated our capitalistic society is partially to blame for our inability to accept compliments. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know I’m not comfortable with compliments. For a long time I thought it was somehow my mom’s fault, but as I’ve gotten older, I prefer to think it’s because I’m a realist.

In my experience, there are sincere, well-deserved compliments and then the other 99.98%. That other percentage is what gives compliment giving a bad name and a worse acceptance rate. I’m sure it’s nothing new, been going on since the beginning of time. Those white lies to grease the wheels, those little things you say to keep everything on the rails.

“No, your daughter was a perfect angel!”
(That spawn of Satan will never cross this threshold again.)

“No, it was perfect, I was too tired for anything longer tonight.”
(I’m glad he spoke and woke me up, I’d dozed off there right before the end.)

“I would have known you anywhere!”
(As long as you were wearing that nametag because you bear no resemblance whatsoever to the boy I dated in high school.)

“I don’t know what I’d do without you!”
(Underfoot.)

I could go on, endlessly.

grumpy2

I know when I deserve a compliment.

“Why yes, I did just spend the night cleaning up vomit in three different rooms and showed up dressed, hair combed makeup on, to work, on time.”

There’s a compliment I’ve never received.

How about this one?

“I’ve never seen anyone so calm while an enraged ten year old was swinging a freaking tree branch at their head!”

Never heard that one either.

I think the compliments that many of us field on a daily basis are thrown out carelessly by people who don’t want to be bothered with knowing us well but need something from us nonetheless. That’s when I start to feel the discomfit.

If you need something from me, ask. If I say no, you should have bothered to know me better. Don’t think that ‘wish I had your hair’ or ‘love those combat boots’ or ‘you’re so lucky, you can eat anything’, is going to get you any further down the road.

What would happen if we stopped using compliments as some kind of warped currency and instead looked for something we truly admired in everyone we met? Yes, it might take a little of our time, but wouldn’t it pay off in spades at the end?

Just for fun, what’s the best compliment you’ve never received?

 

I’m Not That Girl

A couple of years ago, I did a guest post on a friend’s blog and this morning I found myself searching it out, reading it again. It was about this man’s devastating effect on my life at that time.

richard_armitage_281394760445529_cropped

 

What brought me down memory lane?

Yes, it’s been another tough weekend.

When I wrote the post, I was on the cusp of some very big changes in my personal life. Some I’ve accomplished other’s I’m still working on. But all these months later, I’m only just starting to recognize how deeply I miss connections, deep, emotional connections in my life. I’ve gone so long being the connector, letting relationships simply flow through me that now when I meld with someone it’s a riveting moment for me, a real, heartening, sometimes heartbreaking, thing.

This past week I’ve been conversing with a man I met through Facebook, a handsome, kind, funny man. Not a general in the army in Kabul, not a man in need of a woman’s name to save his inheritance, not a twenty-something bored with life and looking for free porn, in short, not a caricature, a real living breathing, hard working, opinionated man. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversations and looked forward to the times he’d be available online. That exhilaration of recognizing something in a stranger, that feels familiar.
Then, this morning, something very unexpected happened during our conversation, something neither of us had any control over and it abruptly and completely ended our association. A situation in my life that I didn’t choose nor do I have any control over. A situation he cannot countenance because of his own beliefs. After I read his final message, I sat there frozen, staring at my screen in disbelief, tears of loss, embarrassment, regret, filling my eyes.

He wasn’t unkind, just gone.

This has happened to me more in the last two years than in the previous twenty.

Three times, it’s happened three times. How do I remember that number, you may well ask. I remember because each time it occurs, and before I can begin to process it through my frontal lobe, my limbic cavewoman tears our chest open and scrawls the memory on the granite wall of our heart using our own viscera.

As I sit there stunned and hurting looking into her familiar wild eyes I’m caught by the primitive urge to run back to the safety of the past. Run back to what we knew, where there was no upheaval, where everyone accepted the version of us custom made for them.

She won’t tell if we silently slip back to safety, anonymity, mute sadness. Back where we were quietly overlooked.

Scary zombie horror face gesturing silence

 

I risk a glance back over my shoulder, and sigh, the weight of my new reality settling over me like a doomsday cloak, itching, heavy and uncomfortable.

I won’t go back; I can’t go back.

My cavewoman turns back to her wall, adding the final flourishes from her bloody, dripping fingers, those details that clog my throat and water my eyes. The bits that make me question what I’m doing, make me want to hide in the underbrush every time I hear someone approaching.

I read this part again, this bit I wrote just over two years ago –

Mr. Armitage awakened something in me. Something so deeply buried in the drudgery of day-to-day life that it needed extensive resuscitation, serious mouth to mouth, the thing was barely breathing. It was desire. A desire for myself. A desire to be seen again. A desire to be good, extra good, peaceful and forgiving, to myself. A desire to thrive, not just survive, not just take what I’m handed and be thankful. A desire to live my life, unapologetically for myself, but also anchored by a drive for excellence, compassion for others, plain human decency, humility and hard work. It’s my life, it has to be about me, it just doesn’t have to be about only me.

Being awake hurts, feeling hurts.

In my old life, I was enough the way I was. Everyone knew me, knew my history, and knew I was a good woman. This new woman, real woman, I’ve freed is still looking for her footing. Looking for her place, a place she can stand in peace, safety, and acceptance.

I’ve received comments from readers, on other venues, who are struggling along the same path. Beautiful, sensitive, empathic women, who’ve found they could no longer live in the shadows but quickly discover that sunlight, though beautiful and warm, burns.

forest-853250_1920

So sit here by me for a minute, while I drain the poison from the bite, try to ease the sting, bring down the swelling. Sit here on this rock with me while I open my first aid kit; find a suitable bandage to wrap my aching heart tightly enough to numb it.

“I’ll just catch my breath, you go ahead.” I finally say.

In a moment, I’ll tighten the straps on my pack. I’ll scan the shadows and find her crouching there, matted hair, bloodied hands, wound stitched but seeping. I’ll nod my head forward, up the path.

She’ll press her finger to her lips.

Yes, we’ll go quietly for a while; she in the shadows of the trees, silent on fallen leaves and through whispering ferns, me on the path, one step at a time, one foot in front of the other but just for now, not meeting the glances of our fellow travelers.

Just for now, eyes on my feet, keep moving.

 

Sleeping Over

 

My eleven year old daughter is having her first sleepover tomorrow night.

She is giddy.

So is the nine year old who gets to attend by default.

When I think about her sleepovers, this is what I’m seeing.

When I fast forward my brain to something in technicolor, the only way I can make myself go through with it is, bribery.

If I host her sleepover, I get my own next weekend. No, not with the hot janitor, with the woman who introduced me to Fireball Whiskey, sub-zero nights in the hot tub, Margaritas and Martinis, and grown up sleepovers.

I’d lived here in the Dakotas about three years when I first met Tori. We met at work and hit it off, I don’t remember exactly how, but I’m sure it was perverted. Her husband is often out in the oil fields and that long hot summer we had our first sleepover. She’d farm out her kids and I’d give mine to their dad and she and I would crash at her place.

My kid’s dad has asked me, more than once, “What do you do over there?”,  the hopeful tilt of his eyebrow had me rolling my eyes. I can imagine what was going through his head-and my reply.

Nope.

Nope.

Nope.

I think he was actually disappointed to hear it goes like this.

Followed by this-

Devolving into a six hour conversation about work ending with both of us agreeing that-

And just to be clear, any pillow fight between the two of us would look a hell of a lot more like this than anything you might see at Heff’s place.

 

Spank Me

I have an issue with a co-worker.

I said or did something a couple of weeks ago that offended a man I work with every day. You may find my phrasing odd but I’m not sure exactly what it was I said. You see, I have a mouth that I usually keep a very tight reign on, especially in my workplace. Then there was this one day, an offhand comment and a smart alec reply that sort of gave me a bit of free reign around this one person. A little play on words, a quick joke when no one else is in hearing distance, it was fun. It was really fun. Then poof, nothing. At first I thought he was making his point about how dull my job would be when he moved on. But I quickly realized something was very wrong.

I’m a sensitive person, I notice things. I take things to heart. I’m constantly trying to read people, please people and today after stressing about this for the last two weeks, I tried to apologize. I was walking down a hallway and there he was, alone. I stopped and looked at him and said, “I’ve offended you, I-,” and before I could actually apologize he sort of smiled or scoffed and said, “You shouldn’t worry about it.” then practically ran down the hallway to escape me.

So, now this thing, whatever it is I did, that has bothered me for a couple of weeks, had me choking back tears the rest of the day at work. I’ve thought about it all afternoon. It took me a week to get up the nerve to approach and try to apologize, and not only did I not apologize but I’m stuck with weeks and weeks until summer vacation, in which I will have to see him every day.

And that started me thinking, this is why grown women will let a man spank them to tears.

I will admit something here, before Fifty Shades of Grey, I had no notion of BDSM. Since then I’ve done lots more reading, a little research and even written a bit of it. I’m rather fascinated by it now. I’ve often wondered if I have it in me to really play as a submissive. But I can tell you, after today, I would thank the man that could turn me over his knee, tell me what I’ve done wrong and then spank the hell out of me until I was truly sorry. Then, at least, it would be over with. There would be no need for wondering, no need to ask if we were good now, no circling a room as if we are polar opposites. There would be the hug when it was over and everyone would move on.

Do you see?

Happy Mothering Sunday

Today is Mothering Sunday or Mother’s Day, in the U.K., an event that might have escaped my attention except for, well, Madonna. The headline from this morning’s Daily Mail proclaimed Madonna bereft after losing custody of her son and conceding defeat to her former husband Guy Ritchie.

The article, you can read here, included a link to her cringe worthy performance of La Vie en Rose in Auckland, New Zealand Friday night which she dedicated to her fifteen-year-old son, Rocco.

Embed from Getty Images

She stood in front of a cheering crowd of thousands of strangers that brayed all the louder when she spoke of her son, tears shining in her eyes. Does that mean all those people had been following the story and were cheering for her loss? Maybe they were chomping at the bit to have the childless Madonna back again, after her mommy years of sweats and cheerios in her hair. Perhaps the venue was filled with intoxicated people who’d paid an eye watering sum to watch a fifty-seven year old woman cavort about on stage in fishnets and heels, all of them wishing to escape the weight of poor choices and forget their adulthood for a time?

Embed from Getty Images

While we’re on the subject of poor choices, what is wrong with this kid, anyway? I mean his mother is a freaking rock star! He lives in million dollar homes around the world; his friends are the who’s who of this planet. Musicians, actors, sport stars, he has access to all of them. He wants for nothing. Between his pop star mother and movie directing father, there is nothing he cannot have.

Or is there?

Since the boy decamped his mother’s tour and fled to Britain, what has he been doing? The paparazzi have snapped him riding bikes with his dad in London, texting deftly with one hand and steering with the other. He’s also been seen hanging out with kids his age at a skate park, and, gasp, participating in underage smoking. That last bit apparently really riled his mom. I’m sure he did nothing so detrimental to his growing brain while touring around the world with her, all those hours back stage and on the tour bus/plane. Pretty sure he passed those hours with Geometry homework and nature programs. Like any good mom, she surely banned him from MTV until he finished his chores. Why, why would he leave her? I think I’m about to make myself cry.

Wait, nope, just the cat hair. God bless me!

 

Sigh, so, here’s the thing, I have a sixteen-year-old son.

IMG_2013(1)
My boy, a couple of years ago, doing his most and least favorite things at the same moment.

He is most definitely the reason this story hurts my heart.Why I think women around the globe look at this situation and shake their heads. The universal truths about teenage boys. I’ll speak about mine, because he’s the one I know. He wants his space but still needs security. He wants excitement and fast cars and to try that cinnamon whiskey, and for now, if I pay attention, I get to weigh in on all those things. Why? Because he still wants to lay on the couch and have me bring him food and fund his PS4 wallet. Because I can make him laugh when he tells me, he wants a Bugatti Chiron, but really, in the winter in North Dakota? I’m not going to be towing his sorry butt out of the ditch every time he hits the gas pedal between October and May. Because he wants to hang out on the soccer pitch, kicking goal after goal with his best friend and he knows if he texts me I’ll let him stay until it’s just dark enough he can’t see the ball anymore. You see, even now on the cusp of adult independence, he still needs me.
He needs me, not on my timetable, on his.
He needs me to listen when he’s ready to talk. He needs me to be alone sometimes, so he can casually ask that question burning a hole in his spirit.
You see, he’s waiting for that quiet Sunday morning, when the girls are gone and you’ve slept in. You come out to the kitchen in your pajamas and make yourself a cup of coffee, look out the window at Central Park, or the Missouri River, or just the Wachter ditch. You are still a little hung over from the absolute glut of sleep and the prospect of the laziest Sunday so far this month.
His tousled blonde head pops up over the back of the couch, “Mom?”
“Yah?” you mumble, hoping he wants nothing more than to clarify that it is not a serial killer using the Keurig.
“Can I have a dollar for a Coke?”
“Yah.” You’re glad it’s nothing you have to put any effort into.
He gets up from the couch and stretches, all long, lean, and taller than you. He walks over and rests his forehead on your shoulder. You do that shrug thing you do that bounces his greasy teenage boy hair against your cheek. “Eww, you ever gonna shower?”
“Mommmmm.”
You smile into your coffee cup as he leans a little more heavily on you.
“Penny’s mom wants her to go on birth control if we’re going to keep hanging out together.”
Oh…boy…
This, this is the part where modern mothers fall down. The quiet spaces that our boys feel comfortable filling.

Back to Madonna, just to be clear, I’m all for mothers taking care of themselves, for feeding their souls, for letting their talents burn and light the world. But I wonder how many Sunday mornings she gives herself? And how she finds the spaces to share? I don’t mean share with all of us, but the intimate sharing, the safe, soft places where teeth aren’t brushed, no make up is applied, you know, hairbrush optional places.

Children are beautiful, fascinating, maddening things. They are ours, our very own, for such a pitifully short time. I wonder if Madonna has just realized that. Just come to understand that now, when he’s fifteen, he’s so perfect, so funny, so loving, so active, so independent, so needy, and so very far away on the other side of the world.

I would like to think if I were in Madonna’s situation, my song dedication to my own son would have been a little different. I like to think I would have grabbed my guitar and gotten on a plane, right behind him, not three months later with a team of lawyers. And after I’d successfully stalked him to my ex’s house in London, I would have sat on the end of his bed and serenaded him. And if he were my son, he would have been the one crying, pleading with me to stop; he’d give me anything, no more singing! I would have had to sit on him and listen to the gagging sounds he made as I sang about my heart and soul and pressing his heart to mine.

“Gross, Mom,” he would groan with what little breath he had left.

I’d bounce a little on his back; hear the satisfying crunch of a couple of vertebrae.

“That’s right boy, I’m your mom, and I’m gross, get over it.”

I’d say it with a little smile because tomorrow is Sunday.

Happy Mother’s Day, Caty and Helen.