Friday, January 16, 2009
Dirty Laundry: Aired
Wow, you guys, thanks for all of your input, and kudos on the last post. Alas, it seems that I've misled you once again: There isn't anyone hassling me. Well, there is, kind of, someone putting pressure on me.
It's, uh...me. It's me, that's who, that's been telling me that I might need to reveal a bit more on my blog. It's me who wonders if certain things I lead you to believe are entirely fair.
Don't we usually put the most pressure on ourselves, after all?
Ok. It's confession time.
You know, I write and write and write about my kid. If you'd been reading back in the day, his pre-Army days, you'd have noted a few admissions about a few lousy days, when we were at each other's throats. We argued, sometimes, back then. Go figure: he a teenage kid, and me a mother at wit's end.
Here's the deal. I often get people that approach me, in person, or via email, and lament to me "I wish I had the same relationship with my son that you have with yours."
It takes me back every single time, and I backpedal, and stammer, and admit to those people..."well, you do understand that it's not all rainbows and teddy bears between us all the time, don't you?"
And they don't, really. I've somewhere along the line given the impression that we speak daily, and that we never get on one another's nerves. That when he comes home, he mows the yard without my asking (HA! I kill me!), and that he's comfortable sitting around my quiet home for hours, just enjoying Mother's company.
And that there is never conflict between us.
I'm here to tell you that there certainly is conflict between us. Even after I worried and cried and gnashed my teeth when he was in Iraq. Even though he can't wait to get home and dig into Mom's cooking. We still lock horns.
The truth is, that over the holidays, there was a conflict of EPIC proportions in our household. One of "those" conflicts in which things are said, and done, and then said again in retaliation until the parties involved are completely shell-shocked from the pain inflicted on them, and the apologies they themselves should make. It was a conflict that had ancillaries. It branched out, and caused conflict between Brian and his father. It caused conflict between me and his father. And if not conflict, entirely, some heartache and confusion with Clint, as he tried to figure out what his boundaries were, in the midst of the whole mess.
I sent my son away from my home, and then I wept when he didn't want to return. For 3 days we danced around each other, and finally I asked him to join me for dinner. My treat.
He did. Our nervousness with one another was relieved by humor, when each restaurant we decided on was unavailable to us: No tables, or closed on Tuesday nights this week only, or just closed altogether.
We sat, finally, in the Esquire, with burgers and a beer, and we talked. Too tired and mentally bruised from the original argument, there was no need to hash it out. We didn't need much time, really, to say, "let's move forward."
We realize this: When he comes home, he turns back into a "kid" and I into his "parent." Its who we were when we lived here, and it's who we know to be with each other. It's comforting and nostalgic...and inevitably, eventually gets on each of our nerves. Truth is, he's a responsible young soldier, taking a Sargeant's test and trying to get into Airbourne school, and he doesn't want to be bossed around and parented for 2 weeks. By the same token, I'm a 46-year old woman that lives a pretty quiet lifestyle (yes, I really do), and I'm not interested in harping at a bunch of rowdy jackass boys to clean up their mess in the kitchen. (And I do say "jackass" most lovingly.)
And it takes us, in the end, just a few minutes, at dinner, to come to this agreement: "I am never kicking you out of my house again." And he: "You will never have to."
And we eat burgers and watch the game. And I cook at home for him and his friends the next evening. And we spend the day visiting his Great Grandma. And there's another big steak dinner before he leaves.
And I get up on the morning of my own birthday, and fix him and his buddy a big breakfast, and put them back on the road to Fort Benning with a bag full of lunchmeat pinwheels and poptarts and peppered sunflower seeds, and whatever else I can find in the cupboard. And I don't even cry when he leaves. Until I get back in the house.
He's back at Benning now, and we go about our own lives. He calls me for recipes, and to share things that his friends just did that crack him up. And I call him, occasionally, just to say "watcha doin?"
My son and I, we do have occasional conflict and disagreement—but never without resolution and apologies. We are also friends. We talk a lot, laugh even more, and we like one another.
And in the writing of the last blog, and this one, I've come to realize something:
You're right. I would wish my relationship with my son, on you and yours, if that's what you wish.
It's pretty close to perfect.