>The Streets of San Francisco


Has anybody ever read this book? Of course you have. If you have a child under 20, somebody, somewhere, at sometime, has given you this book. I was ambushed at my own son’s baby shower when a friend gave me this book as a shower gift. Not knowing what I was getting myself into I read it aloud in front of my guests. Of course, I cried. Right there in front of everybody I sobbed at the thought that the huge ball of baby that I was carrying in my belly would one day grow up and leave me behind for a life of his very own. Everybody with a beating heart cries when they get to the end of this book.

Just in case you are from the moon or something and have never read this book, here’s the synopsis. The mother has a little baby. Every night when she puts him to bed she holds him in her arms and sings him this song about how she’ll love him forever. Page by page we are led through this little boy’s life. He is messy. He is curious. He leaves fingerprints everywhere. He’s inconsiderate. But every night after he goes to sleep she sneaks into his room and sings her little song to him about how she’ll love him forever.

Then it gets a little creepy. He grows up and moves away and she sneaks up a ladder in the middle of the night and holds him–a big grown-up man–in her arms and sings her little song about loving him forever. Frankly, I don’t know about you, but that part creeped me out.

Then I went on a trip this weekend to San Francisco with my own creepy, grown-up version of a son. And he fell asleep while I was reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I glanced over to see him fallen fast asleep and then I snapped this picture with my phone. And then I understood that mother.

It was all I could do not to snatch up this man-child in the middle of the night and sing to him that mother’s lullaby from the story:

“I love you forever. I like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”

Yep. He’s messy. Argh. He’s curious. He’s left his fingerprints all over my walls, and ugly stretchmarks all over my body. Sometimes, he’s inconsiderate as hell and other times he’s heartbreakingly sweet and generous, and thoughtful and kind. And yes, those are his nasty cigarettes. I’d photoshop them out to protect my pride (I told him cigarettes were foolish and disgusting; I promise you, I did), but someday maybe some other mom who is coming to grips with the reality of an adult child with a mind of his own might need to see that some other poor mom didn’t raise the blue ribbon tomato either.

(The tomato reference is an inside joke. Amongst us homeschoolers there is this little popular childraising philosophy called “Tomato Staking”. It is a great idea, but for one pretty glaring flaw. Human Beings aren’t anything like tomatoes. Real tomatoes stay in their cages and when they try to get out all you gotta do is take a pair of garden clippers to them. It is illegal in all 50 states to take garden clippers to your child. Also, Human Beings write songs like, “Don’t Cage Me In” whereas tomatoes don’t. See the problem?)

Anyway, I laughed when I took the picture when I thought to myself, “Aren’t they cute when they’re asleep?” And then that book flashed into my head and I could actually see myself with a ladder sneaking across town and creeping up into a window to hold my son just one more time and sing to him a lullaby. I got the mother. Trust me, I’m just as creeped out that it’s me, but I get it now.
But those lullaby days are over. Over and gone and nothing will bring them back. Time to move on. Time moves on.

We had a fantastic time in San Francisco. Here’s us at Alcatraz (not really, we’re in front of the backdrop where Hornblower Cruises takes your picture before you get on the ferry to Alcatraz. I like truth in advertising). I had to snap it with my cellphone because it isn’t available digital.

I think it is a pretty good picture. At least it is in real life.

I personally, as in me, myself, and I, separate from my momness, also had a good time in San Francisco. While my son slept in on Saturday, I climbed up the Filbert Steps to the Coit Tower. WOW! Simply fantabulous. I didn’t ride the elevator to the top of the tower because I’m going to be going back in May with some girlfriends and I’m saving that experience to share with them. I loved being in the city and I realized how much I miss city life. (Now I sound like Eva Gabor from Green Acres…)

I’m so glad we went. It was important. We walked through Grace Cathedral and each of us lit a candle and said a prayer. Outside, I walked the labyrinth and prayed for him while he sat on a nearby wall and watched me and smoked. We walked down Lombard Street. We talked and we laughed and we agreed that we are entirely too much alike for either of our comfort. We ate amazingly simple Italian food at Nob Hill Cafe Pizzaria/Trattoria. He slept in. I walked hard. All good.

We went down to the Haight and I showed him what his future could be like if he so chooses. We ate at People’s Cafe (the coffee is very, very good there) and we stopped to listen to a gifted, dreadlocked, but mercifully showered, saxaphone street performer play amazing saxaphone while watching two birds have sex on a windowsill (that part was random and weird). I wondered about how much his parents (the itinerant sax player, not the bird) had paid for those sax lessons to have their son play for dollar bills in his dreadlocks on the corner of Haight and Cole.

We listened to the entire Beatles White Album as we drove around San Francisco and went over the Golden Gate bridge into Sausalito to get salt water taffy for my husband.

After hours together, talking and laughing, we drove the hour and a half back to his apartment in silence. I had Jim Croce on and “Operator” put us both in a funk. We sure do love each other so much. It is too bad that moms and sons have to do this separation thing or else it just turns creepy. I’m doing my best, but it is hard. I’m glad I’m having an entirely different experience with my daughter. We’re still separating, but it isn’t the same. Separating from her is also gaining a new and wonderful best friend. Separating from him is like having my arm eaten by a garbage disposal.

I miss both of my children so much. But I’m working hard to embrace this next step. Thanks for listening.


19 thoughts on “>The Streets of San Francisco

  1. >I’ve wondered if anyone else thought that part of the story was creepy. My sons are still small but I can see myself wanting to hold them and rock them when they are too old (and big) for it. I’m glad you had fun in SF. If you traveled 101, you drove right by me!Thank you for sharing about this special time w/your son. It’s was beautiful to read about.Ajoy

  2. >Chloe,I completely commiserate with you. I decided quickly with my oldest that the whole “growing up and letting go” garbage is for the birds.Yet, they insist upon it. My second dd is living with her theatre geek friends and has pretty much cut out anyone with a blood-link to her.I cry when she cannot see. But, on the outside I wait patiently. Hoping and praying that my child will find her way back to her family.I miss her so much.

  3. >I’m glad you had a good time. It is scary having them be so much like you but still wanting to do their own thing isnt’ it? You are so brave.If Wolfie makes it to Tacoma on his adventure he has a couch, shower, and hot meal at our house. Totally, totally OT, we have a friend who lived on Alcatraz as a child. His dad was the doctor there.Sharon in Wa

  4. >That next step sounds so much harder than parenting a young child. It gives me a glimpse of the future and also an idea of what my mom went through with my brother.

  5. >Great post!!!The picture of you and your boy reminds me of a picture of Desmond and Penny that was also posed in front of a backdrop, from the TV show Lost. The picture played a pivotal role in the plot line. Too bad you don’t watch. We could really have some good fun speculating on where your story with Wolfie will go from here. If I know you like I think I do, if at all possible, you, too, would engage in a little time travel: back, to hold your baby son close once more, or to right any wrongs you feel you may have perpetrated. And forward, just to make sure everything is going to turn out all right for him. And then perhaps back again to kill anyone who might have led him astray.And that’s why God doesn’t let us time travel: to keep down the murder rate.I love you, my friend.

  6. >*tears*I get that Mom, too. I always thought is was soo freaky for her to sneak into his room….and now I can totally understand that desire.sigh…Arm in the garbage disposal. Yup! That about sums it up.

  7. >Yes, that book. Sweet and creepy at the same time. And way more poignant now that I have an 18yo son. I have different issues with mine, but it’s still a puzzle figuring out how to be a parent of an adult. It’s helpful to read about your ongoing journey. Thank you.

  8. >Chloe, I can’t imagine how hard all this is. Please know that I pray for your family.And I had a good LOL over the Alcatraz pic… specificially Wolfie’s shirt.Jen/mamamoz

  9. Yes, that book. Sweet and creepy at the same time. And way more poignant now that I have an 18yo son. I have different issues with mine, but it's still a puzzle figuring out how to be a parent of an adult. It's helpful to read about your ongoing journey. Thank you.

  10. That next step sounds so much harder than parenting a young child. It gives me a glimpse of the future and also an idea of what my mom went through with my brother.

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