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.
(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?)
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.