A Random Image

Jett Superior laid this on you on || September 6, 2008 || 10:11 pm


In the course of my lifetime –and, more especially, certain jobs– what I’ve seen, as far as parenting styles go, runs the gamut. As a parent, I think I’m pretty good-natured, pretty protective, fairly strict, forthright with my kids, and not stingy with hugs and frequent with ‘I love you’. I try and do what my mother did: Give them plenty of room and opportunity and the resources to explore the world. Essentially, I give them enough rope, but should they choose to hang themselves, I will yank it back sharply.

Recently Sam has been taking the painful steps to become a man, to fully decide what kind of person he will be when he steps out of the environs of our home and into the world. I want to write some sort of love letter to him about who he is to me and also others, about what red flags I see popping up around him, about the scope and the breadth and the responsibility of just being a human being.

Words, of course, are crazed, slippery things when trying to convey things of a large or grandiose nature.

Before he was even born, I began scratching in a dark blue (coincidentally, what Sam now claims as his favorite color) leather-bound journal, intent on giving it to him when he turned eighteen. By the time Samuel was six months old, though, the task of quantifying the knowledge I had gathered to that point and the knowledge I was still gaining and my feelings toward/about him became too big. There was just far too much to capture, and to dismiss even one iota of it seemed reckless and somehow unfair. So I sat the journal aside.

In the past year or so, Sam has been taking an interest in this here voyeurnal; he drops in from time to time to see what’s going on in my head that he has and has not heard about. He spends up to an hour at a time taking in chunks of entries that I’ve made over the years, much as he does with our old home movies and our photo albums. He is my wholly sentimental child, the one that asks me questions about family and wants to hear our oral history. Every so often he will pull out the ‘baby box’ that is stored in his closet: It is a medium-sized Rubbermaid tub of mementos, mostly from his infancy and early childhood. The last time he went spelunking there he pulled out his dedication (the Baptist version of a christening) outfit and called to me. When I got upstairs he smiled and said, “I want you to see this,” then placed his hand over the center of it. His whole hand, heel to fingertip, near-covered the thing.

He was twenty-one inches long when he was born; he is now seventy-four and maybe still adding to that.

There is a lot of talk in voyeurnalling circles as to what of your children’s lives to share and what to keep as your own. I have my own thoughts on the matter, but I am loathe to chime in with them at this time. What I will say, however, is that Sam has come to me over the past year to discuss things that he has read here. The last time he did, he expressed to me his pleasure in the way I have framed our family up and presented it to the world, even in our less attractive moments. “I like the way you are able to catch things that we’ve said and done and felt.” He told me that he appreciated the manner in which I convey that which is Us: Lovingly, brutally, humorously.

This makes me happy, that I’ve not thus far overstepped any bounds. I’ve never put any active thought into where our own personal boundaries lie, really. Sure, there have been instances where my husband has clenched his jaw and protested a bit, but mostly I’ve had liberty to just set my mouth, crack my knuckles and begin to type.

And now, to Sam, the occasional reader, I would like to say, “Nothing I have ever written or will ever write can possibly sum up what it is I feel for you as my son and as a person independent of me. You were my first –and for a time greatest– love as a mother; you bore my heart up on the wings of a truckload of caught breaths, a thousand infinities. You are to my life a wholly gorgeous and undefinable song whose melody I never could have imagined but now would mourn terribly should it be removed from my throat. I love you and I love you and I love you and I love you some more, you sixteen-years-old mess of heart and humor and defiance and exuberant life.”

studio time

5 worked it out »

  1. Captain Dumbass 9.6.2008

    I tried the whole journal thing as well, it’s just too hard to keep up with. Especially once they start moving around on their own. Now, every 6 months or so I scrounge through my blog and my flickr page and make a book of all the good stuff. It’s not exactly pouring my heart out on the page, but it is all the little things. All the funny little stories I might forget to jot down in a journal. Hopefully they’ll appreciate it.

    You’re a pretty awesome mom.

  2. Carolyn...Online 9.7.2008

    I love this. Love it. I love that he reads what you write and that he gets it. And respects it. My girls know about my blog and I let them peek but I have some mindblowing stuff in there about Santa so they can’t actually read it yet.

  3. What else is there to do but throw words at the unsayable? I suppose we could go rollerblading but rollerblading is stupid.

  4. Kellie 9.7.2008

    Sounds like you raised him right, you’re a good mom.

  5. red 9.8.2008


    I have this son who assembled inside me

    during Hurricane Gloria. In a flash, he appeared,

    in a heartbeat. Outside, pines toppled.

    Phone lines snapped and hissed like cobras.

    Inside, he was a raw pearl: microscopic, luminous.

    Look at the muscled obelisk of him now

    pawing through the icebox for more grapes.

    Sixteen years and not a bone broken,

    not a single stitch. By his age,

    I was marked more ways, and small.

    He’s a slouching six foot three,

    with implausible blue eyes, which settle

    on the pages of Emerson’s “Self Reliance”

    with profound belligerence.

    A girl with a navel ring

    could make his cell phone go brr,

    or an Afro’d boy leaning on a mop at Taco Bell –

    creatures strange as dragons or eels.

    Balanced on a kitchen stool, each gives counsel

    arcane as any oracle’s. Bruce claims school

    is harshing my mellow. Case longs to date

    a tattooed girl, becase he wants a woman

    willing to do stuff she’ll regret.

    They’ve come to lead my son

    into his broadening spiral.

    Someday soon, the tether

    will snap. I birthed my own mom

    into oblivion. The night my son smashed

    the car fender, then rode home

    in the rain-streaked cop car, he asked, Did you

    and Dad screw up so much?

    He’d let me tuck him in,

    my grandmother’s wedding quilt

    from 1912 drawn to his goateed chin. Don’t

    blame us, I said. You’re your own

    idiot now. At which he grinned.

    The cop said the girl in the crimped Chevy

    took it hard. He’d found my son

    awkwardly holding her in the canted headlights,

    where he’d draped his own coat

    over her shaking shoulders. My fault,

    he’d confessed right off.

    Nice kid, said the cop.

    –Mary Karr


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