>The above is a quote from the movie “The Exorcist”. In the scene, Satan, wearing poor Linda Blair as a costume, taunts the priest, Father Damien, by pretending to be his mother. Apparently, Father Damien wasn’t that great of a son. He felt guilty for letting his mom down and that guilt followed him everywhere. Satan, nicknamed the Accuser in Scripture, with his usual deadly pinpoint accuracy, uses Father Damien’s own mother to accuse him of his worst fear, that he was a bad son whose neglect led to his mother’s premature death. Possibly, Father Damien’s mom actually had said these words to her son, but maybe he just heard them in his own head because he knew without words that he had been a disappointment as a son. Who knows? It’s just a story. It is a story that scared the Bejesus out of me when I was 9 and it has returned with a vengeance upon me now, but for entirely different reasons.
I fear that I might be starting to sound a tad like Father Damien’s mom and if I don’t get off this road quick there is going to be hell to pay.
This is not an easy task the Lord has laid before me. To love my son despite the fact that he doesn’t want to live his life for me and my comfort and ego. And in fact, the more I push and the more I fear the worse it gets. So imagine my surprise when my son invited me down to spend the weekend with him under the proviso that I not be a nagging harridan using guilt to manipulate him to do what I want OR (and this is very important) trying to make him feel guilty for not wanting what I want for his life. And I offered to take him into San Franscisco for the weekend with the understanding that he is never, not even once, to refer to San Francisco as “Frisco”.
We’re not talking drugs anymore here. We’re talking something totally different. What do we do when our child says, “Your life choices don’t interest me in the least; I want to live my life this other way.”? How do we not take that as a slap in the face? Not easy. Some parents actually sever the relationship over this sort of thing. Sometimes the kids do. I’ll be damned (along with Father Damien’s mother) if I’ll let this happen to us. I will do whatever I must to maintain relationship with my son whatever humility it takes. Lord knows I probably need humility anyway.
My MO is typically to cut people out of my life who cause me pain. I call it boundaries. But this isn’t a boundary issue….well, it is, but it isn’t my boundary, it is his. He wants to live the bohemian artist lifestyle. He doesn’t want money from us and he isn’t getting anymore from this point forward. He doesn’t want to go to college. He wants thrills and chills and danger and excitement of not knowing where his next meal is coming from and from relying on himself to provide for himself. He wants to be a self-made man and I most definitely do not want that. What is the point of having parents who love and care for you if you reject their support? But somehow he sees all these strings (that I thought I was keeping so invisible) attached to our support and he wants none of it. He doesn’t want to feel obligated to fulfill our dreams.
There’s actually an honor to it, a foolish honor, but an honor that I’m trying my very bestest to focus in on while forgetting all the rest.
So this weekend, my son and I are going to take a little weekend trip to San Francisco together for some mother-son bonding time. We’re both terrified. I’ve already made reservations at a bourgeois hotel because I like sleeping in comfort (so does Mr. I’d Like to Ride the Rails). But then we got tickets to Alcatraz so we’ll have some contrast. I’m planning on taking him out to dinner for Tapas (yum), but then we’ll travel into Haight for breakfast and a chance to look upon the unwashed.
My goal. To keep my opinions to myself and be pleasant and supportive. A Herculean task to be certain. Wish me luck.