Thursday, February 9, 2012

Birthdays, Sons and Mothers

Today, blown-out from a bad cold yet ever-vigilant in my pledge to keep America safe by tirelessly monitoring the airwaves, a commercial for JC Penney came on as I sat drooling away my evening in the flickering light of the flat screen.

While I cannot even pretend to understand anything about Penney's new "revolutionary" approach to selling us more stuff, I became transfixed by one of those advertising montages that -- through the use of great looking actors engaged in joyous pursuits such as being tugged by a frisky dog on a leash, spraying each other with water and smiling into one another's eyes by a crackling fire -- make gullible idiots such as myself long for things that are not attainable because they are not real.
Thank you, JC Penney for making America me feel subconsciously inadequate--but that's a blog for another day. Back to the montage...

In it, a small child decorates a picture window with translucent colored hearts for St. Valentine's Day.

"Oh, what a great idea," I found myself thinking. "I should do that with the boys."

Boom. What?

Of course I know that the boys are grown and out. I'm not totally crazy--but it's kind of a knee jerk mommy thing that, for me, has never quite gone away: Gotta cook that, make that, do that...oy vey.

Even though we're far removed from the days of carefully working blunt scissors around the edges of lacy hearts in February, fat green shamrocks in March and the deceptively tricky ovals of pastel eggs in April, am I alone in the occasional maternal flash that it's not finished...that there are still cut-outs to be taped to the windows and that I will, once again, stand back with the boys to admire our work, celebrating afterward with cookies and a hug?

Am I losing my mind?

Nah, it's just Tommy's birthday. Every year at this time, I become totally unhinged by nostalgia. My family expects it and prepares accordingly ("Oh, God. Is that Mom calling again? Whatever you do, do not answer it!!!).

As I reflected on all this, the perfect storm of maudlin delusion and tender reality collided and my sinuses, still compromised from the cold I've been secretly enjoying, refilled (with cement) as the tears made tracks through the moisturizer on my cheeks.

Reaching for the tissues, I dislodged Buzzy who'd been draped across my lap but the sensory memory of that moment wasn't of a warm kitty cat but the weight of the sleeping baby I'd once held...the small boy who leaned against me as we sat in the bay window of our apartment reading the books we'd carried home from the library...the smooth cheek of the teenager, offering his face for a quick kiss as he raced out the door to go meet his friends.

When Tom was a tiny baby, I was intoxicated with the greedy joy of knowing that he would be mine alone for many years before the world would demand I play nice and share him. But, instead, and apparently overnight, the sleepy bundle in a fleece sleeper grew up.

In time-lapse photography, that baby became a boy who always lived large...and loud...and funny... and sweet. And occasionally, of course, mean and often rebellious. Tom is, to this day, a feast for the senses.

Close despite the miles between us, we're often told that we're similar in nature so we know one another well. I can read him and, although I prefer to believe that I am an enigma, Tom reads me right back.

Therefore, he knows exactly how I feel today.

Happy birthday, Tom. Many more. With lots of love 4-evah, Mom


  1. I feel your pain as my girls keep getting older. Sometimes they still like it when mommy makes cookies.
    I also feel your pain when it comes to continual tv watching. I've been home with torn muscles in my left shoulder for a week now. I've seen that JC Penney commercial a hundred times and I still can't figure it out.

  2. Thanks fo rmaking me cry at my desk.

  3. Congratulations on your sons birthday. It's the mothers who do all the work anyway. Nice post.

  4. If Tom is like you, he must be a sweetie. Happy Birthday to him. And perhaps you can store the Valentine idea-thing for when you have grand-babies to play with? XO

  5. Now the tears are runnning down the moisturizer on my cheeks too. Your son and husband have close birthdays!

  6. Ouch, Michelle---I hope your shoulder feels better fast. Since you've seen the commercial, you know exactly what I'm talking about. ow old are your girls?

    Thanks for stopping by today!

  7. You're welcome, Sharona. If you want to cry, I have more where this came from. Thanks for reading.

  8. Thaks, LJD. I do agree. You must be a mother.

  9. Thank you, Janet. He's a big sweetie for sure (as for me, the jury is still out) and I thought of the grandchildren thing but I'm in no hurry...that can wait a bit. i will convey your birthday wishes to him! XXOO

  10. We do, Caroline...and there are actually more in February! Thanks for your comment!

  11. I hope you kick your cold soon young one. If it makes you feel any better, Doug has one now as well; but at least I feel sorry for you.

    BTW- Is a Tommy a minister? Or was the pose just happenstance?

  12. Susan - My girls are 16 and 19. The 19 year old is already married and has a baby. I'm enjoying this grandma thing.
    My shoulder is getting better. Actually was able to get out of bed and do a few things today. Didn't see the JC Penney commercial all day. Yay, for me!