Thanks to Martin Luther King Jr., we are finding ourselves faced with a long weekend. Don't get me wrong--I'm with the crowd who thinks the guy was a hero. I just wish that my kids didn't have to enjoy early release and a day off of school to observe his social trailblazing.
What's a sick mom to do? My own mom and I loaded the little cowboys up and headed for the movie theatre, where we were guaranteed a couple of hours of peace and quiet. We took the boys to see "Parental Guidance", the new Billy Crystal/Bette Midler flick about grandparents who arrive to care for their three grandchildren for a week. The out-of-touch grandparents know very little about the kids' lives (or children in general, for that matter), not to mention the technology that pervades modern-day child rearing. It's a sweet and appropriate movie, with just enough potty humor to keep my sons laughing.
Toward the end of the movie, there is a high-drama scene between the 12-year-old girl and her mother in which the girl yells, "I hate you! I wish I had any mother but you!" As a parent of a tween myself, I felt a familiar tightening in my stomach. I forgot for a moment that the scene wasn't real, because I felt the agony of the mom as she watched her daughter run up the stairs and slam the door to her room. How many times have I watched the back of my own son's head as he makes a similar retreat? As many as I've second-guessed my mothering, and then some.
As Hollywood tends to do, the film was tied up so neatly at the end that you could put a bow on it and give it for a gift. Everyone makes up, the grandparents revel in their new roles, and they all live happily ever after. The tweenage daughter embraces her mother and says, "I didn't mean what I said. I wouldn't want any other mother but you."
My Goliath, who was sitting next to me in the dark theatre, reached across and lightly punched my arm. No words--not even a glance in my direction. But I get it. He knows that we are a team. He was telling me that I'm doing OK. I'm gonna remember the day that my son punched me. I'm gonna hold on to that wordless affirmation with everything I've got, and I'm gonna run with it. I don't do it all right--in fact, most days, I feel like I'm making a big mess of mothering. But he's stuck with me, and at least for today, he doesn't seem to mind.