Saturday, January 05, 2008
I like the idea of having five-year-old Benjamin snuggle up on my lap while I read to him from the Boxcar Children or the Illustrated Life of the Theotokos, but Benjamin would rather that I not do either. So tonight while my head pounded like the subwoofer in a tricked out Monte Carlo, while the rest of my family was at vespers getting sprinkled with the blessed water from the Feast of Theophany, while I was alone with my third child, I read to him instead from the The Definitive Guide to the Craft of Star Wars: Episode 1.
How is it possible to live with a small person everyday, to have labored them into existence, and yet still feel locked out from the core of their being? Where his siblings drape their own open wide personalities around my shoulders like a shawl, Ben knits together secretly the convictions, fears, and hopes that will come to define him away from my prying eyes, anxious heart. When they say “yes”, Ben says “no.” When I call “come”, Ben stays put - whether out of defiance or pure distractedness, I couldn’t tell you.
I have tried to pull him to me, to gently, lovingly, tame his wild self into a boy that would reflect my moral, social, and spiritual values. I have angrily, sternly attempted to force him into an easier to handle version of a son – one that didn’t talk back, make up their own outlandish words to our evening prayers, or ask our visitors to “Please go home now,” much to my obvious chagrin. I have talked at him, corralled his exuberance, made excuses for his unapologetically non-conformist behavior. But recently, I have been struck with fervor to re-introduce myself as a mother who respects his right to not be me. Its either that or watch him drift just out reach over the years that threaten to steal him with their lure of adolescence, independence, and eventual adulthood.
“What do you want to do right now, sweetheart, besides watching mommy ‘just get these few more things done?' Look me straight in the eyes and tell me about the superheroes, villains, and dragons whose storylines can keep you playing in the bathtub till the water turns tepid and your skin an iridescent blue. Is it frustrating when I drag you along through my agendas like a muzzled puppy? Lets set limits that are fair, sensitive to your age and temperament, realistic. Let me hear that laugh that starts rumbling in your gut before exploding like fireworks on the Fourth of July. I love you as you are – my gift, my delight, my salvation.