If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Sunday, June 7, 2009

On Raising Boys

I've been thinking about this post for quite a while now but haven't been able to get myself to write it. Even now I'm not sure if this post will be THIS post by the time I'm through.

Lesbian Dad who writes beautiful posts to go with her beautiful photos of her children, wrote one the other day about her love for her son. Take a moment to read it and then come back for the rest of this post. It will make more sense that way.

I didn't raise a girl child along with my boy child so I have no frame of reference for the difference but Angel definitely hit me like a freight train carrying lions. It was painful. It still is.

The other post you'll need to read for a hope that any of this will make sense is this one by Annie King. Go on over and read the whole thing but don't get so confused by the similar wallpaper that you forget to come back.

As I mentioned to Annie in the comments--I miss that. Angel was never a whiz at math nor has he ever dreamed of building armor in leather and steel or of getting a doctorate in history, but I know that...or at least I knew that. I remember that time well and it really wasn't that long ago--yet its a lifetime.

Angel asked me the other day if I liked having him home for the summer. I answered as best and as honestly as I could but it was a half answer because I don't really know the answer. I said yes and no. I miss him when he's gone and I enjoy him when he's here. But, I told him, life is less complicated when he's at school. This part is very true but my explanation of the complication was only a partial answer. It is hard to say exactly what the complication is other than when he's at school I don't have a daily reminder of the Angels that are no longer here. When he's away I can just miss him. When he's here I miss all the hims. I miss chubby baby Angel. I miss toddler Angel. I miss 8 year old Angel who wore glasses for just that one year. I miss skinny 14 year old Angel who played on the football team in HS but never made it off the bench. I'd go on but I think you're getting my drift.

This Angel is an amazing young man. I am still pinned by the freight train but its DIFFERENT and I can't quite explain how. We have a great relationship and I know we always will but he is now an adult child and not a child child.

Over the years I've heard many mothers mourn the ending of each stage as their child grew to the next one. They missed their baby while loving their toddler; they missed their toddler while loving their kindergartner. I never looked back. At each new stage I found him so amazing that the freight train would hit again and I'd forget there ever was a different Angel. And its not that I don't find this stage amazing but somehow I'm mourning all the other stages at once.

I wrote previously about how difficult it was having Angel come home during the school year. He was distant in a way he's never been. He was itchy and made it clear he didn't feel this was his home anymore. I was nervous that the entire summer would be like that but its not. He's relaxed in a way he hasn't been all year. The year at school was a good one for him in many ways but he seems to need to be home and is getting some perspective on school and his friends that I think is very positive. He is more of his old self and not as distant. He is bored but not itchy. He's companionable and easy-going and we talk about poetry and politics. But there is a huge difference between a boy and his mother and a man and his mother.

I love the man but I miss the boy.


Julie said...

Oh, Brigindo. This one made me cry. Seriously. I'm sitting here snorting as I type this. Maybe it was that ADORABLE picture of the boy in the tub. Annie's post was poignant, too. Her followup post was so sweet. High School days are a pain sometimes, but I often long for them.

When my daughter went away to college, I thought I was so cool and together. She came home a lot, so it sort of seemed like she was at camp that first year. The second year was when she really changed. They weren't bad changes, but she was suddenly a woman. I went into a deep depression that entire year. It's probably the first time I truly began to understand my own mother.

It has gotten a lot better as I enjoy the person she is now. I love hearing about all she is doing, and I have learned to adapt somewhat. But I still wake up in cold sweats worrying about her, and I still miss all those stages you describe so beautifully.

I love reading your site and Annie's at all times, but the posts about your sons really touch my heart. It's like a support group for moms! Thanks for sharing.

Annie King said...

Hi Brigindo,
I do miss my son's younger self. His Dad has always been an involved father. Still, there was a time I think my son preferred my company, or at least, he didn't feel self conscious doing things with me- it was normal and natural. Now, he and his Dad have a companionship where I sometimes feel removed, and I miss our old closeness. (Of course, with his growing independence, he's trying to move away from both of us, too, as should be expected.)

Now, the odd thing, I enjoyed all my son's stages and ages, but I think I'm much better at accepting the age he is now than my husband. My husband, even more than me, yearns for the younger boy, in much the way you describe, missing all those earlier stages at once, and we haven't even gotten to the "going off to college" stage and the young manhood. (Despite his "big brain" my son lacks mature judgment, and he wouldn't say so, but he's actually quite boyish.)

I don't even know where I'm going with my comments- just, that your post makes me think, just like my post and Lesbian Dad's made you think. Is it raising boys, or raising people that is both exhaulting and heart wrenching? We want them to grow into independent people, but we miss being mother, and teacher, and friend. I guess it's really the teacher part we have to let go, eventually. Maybe that's the key to remaining a friend (?).