Very recently, one of my sons returned to the nest to recover from a "when it rains it pours" chapter in his life. The transmission in his car went, the company he had been working for went under very quickly and he had a semi-serious medical situation needing attention and had no insurance.
That familiar voice rang out, "Mooooommm!!"
He is recovering on all fronts very well, I am happy to say but living with one of your grown son's after living by yourself has its moments! My place is small and my habits pretty much set in stone.
I am vegetarian, he is a carnivore.
I have a few TV shows I am addicted to, he only watches crime shows, crime documentaries, crime reality and well, crime stuff.
I am on my computer just about all the time because I write. He isn't a fan of computers except when necessary and the tippity tap tap of my fingers on the keyboard drives him up the wall.
On the plus side, we are both very tidy, both night owls and share the same sense of humor. He does his own laundry, picks up after himself and all in all, is a very pleasant person.
Remember when your mom, completely exasperated, gave you the side eye and said, "I hope you have a child just like you when you have children!!!" Yeah, well, he would be that one.
Having been here for a few weeks and noticing my laptop basically attached to me 24/7, he began the interrogation. "What are you doing on there all the time?" he queried. "Writing. I have a FB page and a blog I work on." Pondering this for a few minutes, he then says, "Do you make money off of either one or are you just making money for Zuckerberg?" The tippity tap tap fingers came to a sudden stop. I took off my glasses and just looked at him.
Seriously? Do I have to explain myself to my own son now that I am just about to turn 60? I gave him the "mom stare" -- you know the one (trust me, muscle memory brings it right back no matter how many years it's been since you have needed it) and said, "Well, since you are so interested in my writing all of a sudden I will tell you, no, I do not make any money right now but I haven't' been doing it that long." The inquisition continued. "Don't most people have ads on their blogs to make money, mom?" Feeling a bit deflated, I confessed that although I know some do, I really didn't know the ins and outs of it but believed you needed a pretty substantial amount of followers to garner any interest from outside entities wanting to advertise on your blog.
Open flood gates. "Mom, with all the time you spend on that thing, are you telling me you don't make a dime? That is ridiculous. If you put half the amount of time and effort into something you KNOW you could make money at, you would be making a lot of money! What is the matter with you?"
Now completely deflated and with no awesome, immediate, mom wisdom retort to launch his direction I did the next best thing. I took my laptop into my room and shut the door. Then I sulked for a bit. Yes, we are both very stubborn, both very outspoken and neither of us mince words. How angry could I get? He was right!
The next day all was well with the world and things proceeded as they normally do. However, when he returned from work and found me typing away, I got the dreaded eye roll from him. I lost my temper and we argued. All his points were valid. I was on the computer writing all the time. I love my blog but it is a wee blog right now. I realized that maybe it was really just a journal of sorts. Was I serious about what I was doing or just mucking around? Could I write and submit my work somewhere? How? Where?
While I was angry at him at first for daring to question me, his mother, on my commitment to myself and my writing, he had made me face the fact that I had to make a serious decision. To write or not to write. So, I got involved with some amazing people and got serious about my writing.
I love this kid for that! No, I'm not a famous author, but I am a lot closer to becoming one than I was two months ago. Why? Because if you don't at least try, don't put yourself out there, you know one thing and one thing only. Nothing is going to happen to fulfill your dream, absolutely nothing.
He made me take myself seriously and for writers, this is a tough thing. We have fragile egos, we want everyone to love each and every word we write. We want to make everyone feel something, something that maybe they didn't even know could be stirred within them. We get rejected a lot. It stings. It stings because we take it personally as we write from the heart. Most times, it isn't personal. Most editors will tell you if you "shouldn't quit your day job" just yet!
I thank my son each and every time I have an editor email me and say, "We'd like to run this piece on our site, please send your Bio and Links." For a writer, that makes our pea pickin' lil' heart skip a beat. It doesn't matter if it is a huge blog site or a small publication, it just matters.
My son and I have always had a blunt and direct way of speaking to one another. I don't know when this started but I think it is because we are so much alike that we just seem to instinctively know what the other needs to hear and just blurt it out, no cushioning or preamble, just right to the quick. It works. It's a little rough sometimes but it works.
It seems that the very things we sometimes wish were different about our children are the very things we end up valuing the most once they are adults. He was the most stubborn child I have ever encountered, to the point I seriously thought his head must be made of concrete to have survived all the head butting he did when he was growing up but it has served him well in his life. He is strong, sure of himself, a natural leader, an extremely logical thinker and a very inspiring motivator.
We as parents have to walk the fine line of disciplining them when they are little, trying to correct potential "stumbling block" traits all while being careful to not crush their very spirits, that which makes them the unique, albeit "difficult," budding adults they will someday become.
We bumped heads many, many, many times from the moment he arrived into this world until just a few hours ago and I have come to realize that's OK, for if it weren't for that concrete head of his and his unwillingness to accept me "wasting my valuable time and talent" floundering around on the computer instead of at least trying to set and accomplish some goals, I wouldn't be here telling you about him now.
You probably have one of those kids and if not, then a niece or nephew who you see your reflection in. Nurture their spirit always even though at times it may seem impossible to accept as a positive trait. If they won't let go of it and it isn't a violent or obviously unacceptable behavior then it is part of them for a reason. We may not see the reason when we are ready to throw ourselves onto the kitchen floor and scream, "I GIVE UP!!!" but it may just be that you see yourself in those stubborn eyes staring back at you! If you do, give them a long, hard, deep stare and ask yourself, do I really want to extinguish that light I see in there?
Soon, my son's wings will be fully healed and he will take flight once again. I'm sure in some ways it will be nice to have the place all to myself again, no hamburger in the refrigerator and no boxes to trip over but when I hear the tippity tap tap of my fingers on this keyboard I will always be eternally grateful to my son, especially when I hit that SUBMIT button. Who knows? Maybe one day, Mary McLaurine will be a name you remember? I have to try, right??
Find more of Mary McLaurine at The Heart of Sassy Lassie