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Walk Like a Man

Aug
11
2006

My oldest son, Heir 1, turned 18 recently, one of those milestone birthdays requiring significant attention. However we have conflicting views about what this particular event means in his – and my – life.
“I can buy porn,” he announces with a sideways glance to gauge my reaction, “and guns.”
“You can be sued,” I remind him, “and drafted.”
“I can vote.” We are both impressed with this.
He is fearless, this new grownup of mine. To him he went to bed a naïve teenager and awoke a worldly adult. He doesn’t need parents anymore, he insists.
And so he’s struck out on his own, eating a diet of Ramen noodles and pizza pockets and using an old mattress as a couch. He comes here to “visit” and refers to that other place as “home.”
It all stings, I must admit. What is the hurry to leave? What horrors had I subjected him to that sent him screaming for the door the moment he achieved majority?
I know intellectually that the call to freedom is irresistible, particularly if your parents were very involved with raising you. I had felt the pull at his age, only my parents had made me fearful and guilt-ridden about attempts to be on my own.
I wonder, with that knee-jerk smothering streak all mothers possess, if Heir 1 knows exactly how precarious is his new-found power? I wonder if he realizes that I could have squelched all that confidence with one withering statement, reminder of vulnerabilities or prediction of doom. With his adulthood still less than a week old, it is open to an attack that could freeze it forever in limbo.
As a mother I know all his weaknesses and it is the ultimate act of love that I never use this information to get what my ego craves the most – his needing me.
So I remind myself that Heir 1’s cocky over-confidence, his know-it-all attitude, and his downright condescending demeanor toward Dirtman and me are all signs of us having done our job correctly.
I know our job is not over and probably never will be. His cheekiness now will be humbled several times over and I’ve no doubt there will be frantic phone calls in times of need. But we can’t deny the relationship is significantly changed and that is not necessarily bad.
So, in spite of my desire to become Mother of the Year, this morning when Heir 1 walked through my door and handed me a garbage bag full of dirty laundry insisting, “I don’t have time to do this, I’m meeting So-n-So for lunch,” I handed it right back to him.
To his credit, he had the decency not to be surprised.

Share  Posted by Jeanne Jackson at 11:27 AM | Permalink

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