Sunday, January 3, 2010

When Mommy Cries

When I was five years old, I experienced my first moment of total despair.  I committed a grave crime.  My mother was on the phone with her mother, mentioning the exciting and beautiful gift she had received.  It was a set of glass place name holders.  They were little objects to sit beside each plate on the dinner table.  Each had a small panel for temporarily writing the name of that guest and each had a delicate and beautiful glass flower beside the panel.  They were probably the most beautiful piece of artwork my mother had ever received.

As my mother mentioned them to Grandma, I remembered how beautiful they were and I wanted to see them again.  I felt their beauty mostly because my mother told me they were very beautiful.  I wanted to get another look at them.  I climbed up to reach them on the mantle piece and somehow while reaching for them, I knocked the flimsy cardboard box to the floor.  Instant shattered glass everywhere.  My mother, naturally, reacted with shock, disappointment and horror. 

I immediately grasped that I had done a very bad thing.  I hoped that maybe it wouldn't turn out too bad.  But, Mommy just sat with her head in her hands, the phone dangling.  She was crying over the loss of the treasure.  I immediately grasped that my life was over.  I was on the fast track to hell where I would be permanently.  I had a panicked thought that maybe my grandmother would take me in and I could live with her. 

I apologized about 500 times but after a while, it became clear that apologies reminded Mommy of the damage, the loss and the culprit.  I stopped apologizing but I am still very sorry.  If my mother was alive, I would call her and apologize again now.  I know her well and she would say," That was 65 years ago.  Let it go.  I have and you need to.  Heal now." 

Boys want to be loved and honored, just like anyone else.  Their genes, their personalities and what they learn from all sorts of others combine to tell boys that the way to be valued and to be valuable is to be a hero, just what society expects.  In today's advanced and specialized way, there are tons of ways to be heroes.  We have heroic women and girls, heroic whistle blowers and bookkeepers, heroic singers and sculptors.  But there are many situations that have no openings for heroes.  Situations of shock, of grief may only allow for suffering and acceptance.  When you are a male child and the most important person in your world, your mommy, is upset, you want to fix things.  You want to be a hero.  But when a grandmother has died, a loved and honored person that Mommy grieves and is going to leave a hole in Mommy's life, Mommy's tears cannot be fixed.  They can only be accepted and if you are older and stronger, commiserated with.

A vital and lovable boy I know has yet to learn this.  As his mommy cried with grief, his heart sank and despair began to darken the world.  He tried a typical male move: give a command.  Tell the source of your despair to get over it.  That was not happily received by Mommy.  But, don't worry, this budding hero will learn better loving.  It just takes a while.

Popular Posts

Follow @olderkirby