Photo: The rock star’s first “boom box” and CD–The Jackson 5, which I think is a very good first CD indeed. He can use it whenever he wants. Just imagine that first time you got to play your music in your room, closing the door and rocking out. My son has now done that three times. It’s just pure, free elation.
Ursa Major turned 8 on Tuesday. His birthday is a big deal for me because he is the whole reason why I’m here in this capacity. Without him, this blog wouldn’t exist. Without him, this house, that minivan, our suburban life as we know it… none of it would be. He’s the physical manifestation of my drive, the reason why we get up in the morning to make the big decisions and do what must be done. He’s not the center of my world, but he is certainly the inspiration for the way I’ve shaped it.
So when the birthday comes around, I try to take a step back and look myself in the mirror. You don’t get a performance evaluation in motherhood. Well, you kinda do, during the annual well-baby check-up, I guess. We did pretty well: I have a healthy 8 year-old who eats roasted brussels sprouts and broccoli and can read and likes math a lot. Nice. But, beyond that, what else is there?
I’m lucky because I have little bit of time left before the changeover from boyhood into puberty. He sees the world through eyes strongly filtered and controlled by me and his father. I have precious little time left for this. How will I use it? 8 marks the beginning of the end of these “foundation” years. Expansion of choices, adventures, media and people in his life means that this world will get bigger, information will become more colorful, questions will become heavier. I’m not going to be the compass for much longer. It’s my prayer that I’ve got it installed firmly in his heart and I’ve surrounded him with powerful guides who can see him along the way.
My Quiet Thoughts are about the accountability I have to myself and to him during these important years ahead. His understanding of who he is in the world, and what is expected of him are directly related to the example I and the adults I allow in his life set for him. I have to live by the code I expect him to live by. I’ve got to make sure I’m holding myself to it, visibly, even when that’s a hard thing to do. My sons are watching.
I’m not writing that every mother should be evaluated on the actions of their sons. Though, as I’ve written before, I think that privileged men who behave badly are often protected by complicit women. What I’m writing is that I, as a mother, want to know that I sent men out into the world who are good to their core because I gave them no other example of how to be. I am saying, on my son’s 8th birthday, that now, more than ever, I am accountable for who he turns out to be. He’ll leave this house and enter the world as a product of my making. That day draws ever nearer. I pray for mercy. Lord, I really do.
Dear Reader, it’s a crisp January night. My boiler has kept my house warm. My hot water showers are still a miracle. My locs are soft and springy after an awesome deep conditioning. My children are entertained and the bathroom is getting done. It’s been a week, Dear Reader. It’s been a week.
Fridays are for wishes because Fridays are the sweet pause between what has been done and the great potential of what’s to come. Take a deep breath, let go of what is behind you, and whisper just one thing you want for yourself. Imagine that someone, somewhere, is listening for your heart’s desire. Imagine that there is some entity that wants nothing more than to hear you and know what you need.
I wish you glorious warmth this weekend, Dear Reader. I wish you the literal warmth of the heat coming on and your home filling with hot air. Please, please take a moment to appreciate the miracle of what it means to be in a warm home, Dear Reader. Can you extend that miracle to another family? If you have the means, I hope you’ll consider it. If not a big donation somewhere, how about just one blanket to a shelter or other organization? Or a coat you haven’t worn in a while? Think about it. I wish you the metaphorical warmth of being thought of and loved this week. Perhaps a letter in the mail or a phone call out of the blue. I hope someone surprises you this week and that fills you up with the warmth of knowing just how loved you are. I wish you music, Dear Reader. Music to make you dance and laugh, music that takes you back to your own room and your own music player. Share some N’Sync or Backstreet Boys or the Mbops or the Temptations or something with someone you love this weekend, Dear Reader. Sing at the top of your lungs, dance with every cell in your body, and then collapse on the floor in a fit of giggles. I wish you a poem this weekend, Dear Reader. Choose it, love it, share it. Matter of fact, I want you to find a poem, make a copy, and put it in the mail for someone this week. For the price of a stamp, you could make someone’s day.
Holding ourselves accountable in a world gone mad is hard work. Perhaps it’s impossible work. But I think it’s worth a try, Dear Reader. I think that’s how we keep ourselves shining brightly against the dark darkness of our current time. Shine brightly, Dear Reader, because someone is watching. and following your lead. When people see you living by your code, they learn to be brave enough to do the same. Be the light because you don’t know who else is strong enough to do so. Be the light because you don’t know how badly someone else needs you to be. Be the light because, well, what else could you possibly be?
Until Monday, Dear Reader, stay warm, make good choices, shine brightly, and take care.