Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to see me through my son’s eyes. The reflection mirrored there is ugly indeed. I can see myself rolling my terrible eyes and gnashing my terrible teeth and yet, I am unable to stop. I would like to be one of those mothers that thrives on being a mom…one that doesn’t, in the heat of the moment, feel as though she’ s made a horrible mistake in choosing to have a child. How can anyone admit to that? I love my son. But we don’t get along.
Today I took him to see Where the Wild Things Are. This was pretty much like seeing my favorite childhood book on crack. Seriously. This is no fuzzy Disney film. It’s dark and scary and sad and lonely and I cried because I thought my son was just like Max and his mom was just like me and it made me feel sick that we come to that end of so much passion and feeling that we physically hurt each other in trying to make ourselves heard by each other.
I brought my kid into a world that I had hoped to populate with a brother or a sister. I brought my son into a world where he had two parents (however dysfunctional we were, both separately and together). I brought my son into a world that I thought would be a much different place than it is now when I struggle with keeping my apartment and worrying about my next job and I am lonely and sad that the man I love left me and left yet another hole in the already torn fabric of our life together.
My kid turned 9 recently. He’s a bona fide boy. Prepubescent, hormonal, smelly, fresh. He had a party for his birthday and I heard one of his friends drop the “F” bomb. Casually. I was thrown into that age again. The age when you start to think you know everything and your parents know nothing and you are invincible. And then, at night when the lights go out you still want to know where your mommy is so you aren’t afraid to fall asleep. Max was like that. He went away. He escaped the clutches of his evil mother with her evil date and her evil frozen corn (because we single mothers have a hard time mustering up the energy to really do much more than fish sticks and tater tots these days). He thought he was invincible and when he found out his new friends were monsters he wished he had his mommy so he wouldn’t be afraid to go to sleep at night.
At one point during the movie, I reached over and held my son’s hand. He looked at me, confused. I just held it tight and watched the movie. I held it with all of the love I had in my heart. I held it with the silent knowledge that even though I am mean and horrible and scary and sometimes I hurt him without meaning to…I’m really just as scared and alone and injured as he is.
After the movie he asked if we could look at the book again when we got home. I said yes. He seemed happy to have spent the afternoon together. We turned the corner of the long hallway that brought us into the lobby and through the floor-to-ceiling glass we saw huge fat flakes of snow pouring out of the gray, gray skies. We looked up in wonder and laughed and as we walked to the car we tried to catch them on our tongues but they stuck in our hair and on our clothes and eyelashes. A moment of magic. A single moment of magic.
Would that we could string them together into many, many moments of magic and our whole lives would be beautiful…like a boat sailing home on still, calm waters.