One of my proudest days this summer was when I walked in on Max explaining to his friend the leveraged buyout business model and that it was inherently “selfish and mean”.  Ok…Ok…He has had some exposure to my politics over his tender 6 years-he didn’t just pick it up from the air on his own.   But despite his tendency to agree with me much of the time, he is wrestling to come up with his own opinions and that makes me equally proud.  One day when he came into work with me he remarked as he was stuffing envelopes…”Mom…If we won the lottery we’d be rich and then John McCain would give us tax breaks and then it wouldn’t be so bad that he is the loophole king.”  It took awhile for me to explain that I don’t mind paying taxes because I believe that we all need to chip in to take care of one another and our community and that if I was rich I especially wouldn’t mind because we are a “sharing family” and that even if I did win the lottery I would still be routing for Obama.    Max said he would need to think about it.  He was for Obama but it might all change if he won the lottery and wanted tax loopholes.  That’s OK.

On that same day, Max announced that he had discovered Steve Earle and that Copperhead Road was now his favorite album–well maybe it was tied with Billy Bragg/Wilco’s Mermaid Ave Volume 1.  Oh my sweet boy.  He’s political AND he has good taste in music.  I am raising him right.  I pat myself on my back as though his brain and his taste in music somehow have something to do with me.

Last night he had his 4 best buddies sleepover to celebrate his birthday.  I am still reeling from the fact that next week he will be seven years old.  Its one of those odd milestones–not well rounded like 5 or 10 (or 40) but for some reason it feels more poignant.  Six feels young and sweet and still close to babyhood.  Seven feels so grown up.    So much has changed in this last year–His face is no longer round and soft.  He is lanky and sometimes I see glimmers of the young man he is growing into in his eyes.  Seven somehow reminds me that he won’t be my baby forever–that he is becoming his own person.

Truth is he has always been his own person.  When he was born, he would scream if swaddled, despite what the baby books said about how it would comfort him.    When he was two he declared himself a vegetarian, because he thought it was mean to eat animals.  His life was forever changed by Bruce the Shark in Nemo.  “Fish are friends…not food” he would repeat over and over again “…and so are chickens and cows Mommy…”  While we have agreed to disagree on the food thing he still occasionally raises his eyebrows when I am cooking up bacon and eggs or grilling chicken.  One day he even said “I can’t believe you mom…how can a mom who is so kind  be so cruel….”  How indeed.

Yes, its been one big illusion that he is MY baby.     But its been an illusion I have enjoyed hanging onto.  Still there are moments when it all fades and I realize that the beauty of who he is becoming, of who he is RIGHT NOW and that in many ways it has nothing to do with me and I am beginning to think that this fact is more lovely.

Max is here on his own  journey and for some reason I have something to teach him that will help him along the way and that is why he came through me.  But he is not mine.  He will leave sooner than I can even imagine it and our relationship will shift and change a thousand times between now and then.  This morning as I watch he and his friends bounce around to the Clash and Steve Earle,  as I shake my head at the fact that Max doesn’t want these delicious blueberries in his pancakes, this poem runs through my head over and over…

Your children are not your children,
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but are not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

-Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

One Response to “Sons and Daughters of Life’s Longing”

  1. Wendy McDonagh-Valentine Says:

    Hi Meg. I just caught up on your entries after being away from my favorite blogs for a while. My computer is fried and I don’t have access to my faves from my husband’s computer. I always check in on Jen at The Comfy Place to see how she’s doing and I found you thru her blog. I really enjoy reading your words. Lots of times it could have been me that had typed them. I think I’m just a couple of steps ahead of you in that your “aha moments” as Oprah calls them are moments that I’ve experienced in the not so distant past. I can relate to your struggles as a single mom. I was a single mom for three years after my 40 year old husband passed away very unexpectedly and left me with three sons to take care of. I have family and friends but, when it comes to your kids, you want to be the one to be with them all of the time. We did everything together for the first year and then my feet felt like they were back on the ground and it was time for me to be me alone once in a while again. I don’t know the circumstances surrounding your being a single parent. Are you divorced? Does Max’s dad see him at all? It’s the toughest job in the world but also the most rewarding, isn’t it?!!? My youngest son, Brendan, is going to be 7 in December and I know what you mean about 6 being so much younger than 7. All of a sudden Brendan is getting so tall and saying things that really shock me sometimes. He has two older brothers and I know he gets a lot of stuff from them. He is also picking up a lot of mannerisms from my new husband. I remarried in May after meeting him on eHarmony. Yes, that really does work!! : ) We started corresponding when eHarmony matched us up and met for lunch a month later and have been inseparable ever since. I know my first husband sent him to the boys and I for all of the crap he put me thru when we were married. We all hope on our wedding day that it’s going to last forever and suddenly you’re blind-sided by change, growing apart, non-communication, etc., etc. But you know what, Meg? God or the Universe or whatever you want to call it (I use God) has a much bigger plan in store for us than we could ever imagine for ourselves. If we just learn to trust and allow it to unfold without swimming against the current or stamping our feet at the unfairness of it all we might just be pleasantly surprised at what comes next. If I were you, I would wake up every morning, wondering what wonderful things are in store for you that day. That is definitely a step in the right direction toward lifting away the veil. If we could all just get out of our own way, life would be so much simpler, wouldn’t it?!!?

    Thank you for your words. I truly enjoy reading them.

    Many blessings ~ Wendy