Tuesday, May 5, 2009

St. Monica, Patron Saint of Mothers

Saint Monica Prays For Her Teenager

Mother's Day is this coming Sunday. I have been turning over the nature of being a mother in my mind for a few years now, puzzling over the dichotomy that exists in the parent/child relationship: namely that the beautiful, sweet, loving little person is going to get older and start scowling at you and tell you they hate you and want to go live with their dad. I don't know how I didn't expect this. Rookie mistake. Because looking back at my relationship with my own mom shouldn't I have known? I distinctly remember a dream I had when my son was only a baby. I remembered it because it disturbed me so at the time. In this dream he walked into the room, grown into a twelve year old, sullen, angry, unresponsive. I felt like I didn't even know him. In the dream I am taken aback, shocked: how had I allowed this to come to pass? When I woke up, shaken, I vowed never, never would I let this happen.

Fast forward several years. Generally being a mom made me feel like I won the Lottery, but as my son got older there were days that it felt more like a minimum wage job at McDonald's. I remembered that dream. I began to suspect that despite my best efforts, it really wasn't all up to me. He wanted to go live with his dad. A very good therapist told me to let him. He also told me to stop treating my son like a little boy. Oh, God. Just kill me why don't you? I phoned my sister, experienced mother of seven, and asked her if her children growing up made her sad. She gently reminded me that the whole point is that they grow up. She said that being their mom through their infancy and childhood is a special, fleeting gift we get, but that the goal is to help them become good people. Good grown-up people. Lightbulb. Okay, that makes sense. But I still felt such grief, such a loss. I had another dream. My son walks in the room. He is himself at two-joyful, twinkly eyed, smiling at me. I am overwhelmed with happiness and sadness at the same time. "Oh my God. I miss you so much!" I tell him. I wake up crying.

At this point my son is fourteen. He lives with his dad. He is upset that I remarried and does not come and visit his baby sister. He doesn't call, doesn't want me involved in his life. There are other issues in the mix that cause me to worry about him. That is what is true right now. It is also true that he is beautiful, smart and strong, that he is on his life journey and right where he is supposed to be, that I love him just as much as I ever did and am really happy that I am his mom. I am also really happy that he is growing up. That is exactly what he is supposed to be doing.