Saturday, 17 December 2011

In Appreciation of Sons.

Long ago, younger son reluctantly dressed for a Victorian party at school, his older brother investigating something more interesting beyond the camera's reach.

From before their births these two have stretched me in every possible direction, physically, emotionally, intellectually, financially.
I feel very privileged to have experienced life with them.
They have taught me so much, and taken me to places where I would rather not have gone, as well as to a great many wonderful, enriching places.

From the very beginning they were such distinctive personalities, and as they grew I appreciated more and more their essential differentness from me.

They were always looking outwards, upwards, beyond. Where I was often preoccupied with the next meal, the ironing, the next day at work, the next bit of commissioned writing, they were immersed in the past, in dinosaurs and Vikings, medieval armour and Robin Hood.
Their heroes were truly heroic - Mighty Mouse, who could conquer the world, Superman, Spiderman, ditto. Seemingly innocent creatures with huge hidden skills, the power to transform and to right wrongs, punish the wicked, ensure that good triumphed over evil.

They looked out to the stars, to the limits of space and time. They had duvet covers that were printed to look like the control panels of space ships and their bedroom curtains were emblazoned with silver and gold stars and planets.
Their interests extended under the sea, to the creatures that live in wet darkness, eating each other. Predators were great!
They looked to the future, beyond the horizon, beyond the petty restrictions often imposed by home and school. They knew their world was huge and they wanted to be out there, fully immersed.

My husband was used to peace, time for reflection, studious reading.
I liked the miniature, the delicate. Jane Austen and Barbara Pym were my favourite authors.
They liked things big: dinosaurs, jungles, sharks, whales, earth-moving machinery, waves, mountains, Knickerbocker glories - the bigger the better. For bedtime stories they wanted Hobbits and He-Man, Transformers and King Arthur.
So my husband and I had our horizons widened, deepened, extended in every direction.

I learned about marine biology, astronomy, the effects of zero gravity, geology and so immeasurably much more.
They learned some reasonably good cookery skills and, just before leaving home, how to iron a shirt.
I hope they also learned that they are hugely loved and appreciated.

Happy Christmas to all Mothers and Sons.


Leslee said...

That's beautiful. I hope they know how lucky they are to have had you for a mom, too! Happy Christmas to you all!

gz said...

They'll appreciate you- even if they wont always admit it!!

marigold jam said...

How lovely this post is. I am not the mother of sons but can identify with many of your comments here and I too hope that my daughter will one day realise just how loved she is and that I might also be as wise as you in appreciating her in all her differentness (is that a word?!) to me. Nobody ever said being a mother would be easy but they also didn't say how it would stretch one did they?!

Relatively Retiring said...

Leslee: thank you. It's all been the most exhausting, exasperating, wonderful fun.

gz: the little chap in the sailor hat will be thirty very soon, and they begin to admit some things now.

Marigold - so good to see you back. I think it's a biological necessity that you cannot convey just how stretching it can be!

Zhoen said...

People get the children they need, if they let them be so.

You remind me of the book, How big is big? How small is small?

Molly said...

Having three sons myself, I loved this piece. If we had known the extent to which we would be stretched by them, in all the ways you mention, might we not have chickened out at the start? But then we would have missed all those broadening, enriching, and sometimes harrowing experiences.....Merry Chritmas to your sons and their lovely mother!

Mrs A said...

Lovely post,I still have my sons old warriors tucked in the closet, and his fantasy novels are still on the shelves, he was always organising a battle on his bedroom floor!

Relatively Retiring said...

Zhoen: I don't know of that book, but will look it up. Thank you.
Molly: many thanks, and happy Christmas to you and yours. Yes, the harrowing part takes you to places that you certainly didn't want to go, and I've had many doses of that, too. It might have been tempting to chicken out, but luckily quite impossible!
Mrs. A: yes, the constant battles of good and evil, and the striving
for super-powers is touching in a way that Barbie and her lifestyle cannot be. But I must not say anything negative about daughters because I have no experience!

Jee said...

Having worked with boys before I had a daughter, I must admit I would have liked a son, but I couldn't wish for a better daughter. She much more girly than I ever was so that was a learning curve for me, too. Husband's relationship with his mother has always been fraught. Your two are lucky to have an understanding mother who knows when to let go - I'm sure they know how loved they are.

Jenny Woolf said...

And daughters!:) I often read those people pronouncing on parenthood when their kids are still young. You appreciate the extent of them after they have grown up and realise how much they have given you.

Relatively Retiring said...

Jee and Jenny: I am well aware of the pitfalls of pronouncing about sons, but that's the way it's been for me, and I've always been aware of how different their thought processes have been from mine.
Being with one's adult children is wonderful. They are so much more grown up and experienced than I can ever be.

The Elephant's Child said...

I followed you home from Frances' place and have been browsing. I just wanted to say that I find your writing elegant and eloquent, and often very moving. Thank you.

Relatively Retiring said...

Elephant's Child: thank you so much for your very generous comment.

Isabelle said...

I quite agree with E's Child - you do have a wonderful style and write such dignified and interesting posts. And I do admire the way that you seem to have let them go... which I find so difficult.

I know what you mean about children teaching us. I feel that I'm (more or less) an archivist, architect and doctor - without ever having to bother with doing the degrees myself... .

Fire Bird said...

I love that photograph

Relatively Retiring said...

Isabelle: thank you for your kind comment. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, including Cassie and Sirius, of course.
Firebird: I love it too, and Big Brother's hand is only lightly squeezing Little Brother's neck!

Frances said...

This is a beautiful post, Relatively Retiring. Thank you.

Relatively Retiring said...

Thank you, Frances, and very happy Christmas to you and yours.

herhimnbryn said...

Happy Christmas to you dear RR. A peaceful new year in 2012 too.

Anne said...

Happy New Year, RR. As others have said, a beautiful post. My two sons have just been with me, one is still here. Neither of them is an easy person, but both talented and full of ideas, some good, some bad. At the moment I feel too close to their troubles.

Relatively Retiring said...

HHnB and Anne: thank you for your comments, and very happy, if slightly belated New Year to you both.
I know what you mean, Anne!