The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Community News Network

May 9, 2014

On Mother's Day weekend, things I wish I taught my son

(Continued)

Suffice it to say that I haven't read Dickens since I was in high school. And honestly, what a peculiar list, right? What about teaching him compassion, generosity, introspection, circumspection, responsibility, rolling with the punches, laughing at the whims of fate? How about a firm handshake? (Does my son have a good handshake? I don't even know!)

On Alec's 18th birthday, I did something I'd thought about doing for years. I wrote him one of those in-case-I-get-hit-by-a-bus letters. Hoping to strike a tone midway between Ben Franklin and Dr. Seuss, I offered up a bunch of unsolicited life advice, acknowledging that he might not even want to look at all this embarrassing balderdash until 10 years from now. My allegedly sage counsel ranged from crucial forms of respect (being on time; being a good listener) to a virtual checklist for the choice of a mate (as if it's a shopping expedition). Be a volunteer, I told him. Learn to express gratitude, sorrow, fear, affection. Apologize. Forgive. Hang on to old friends. Treasure your brother. And yes, learn how to cook.

I elaborated on some items, let others stand for themselves. I left the letter on his desk. I have no idea if he even opened it; a combination of bashfulness and cowardice prevents me from asking. (He could probably sense that it did not contain a check. I gave him a card along with his gifts and his favorite dessert: icebox cake, a relic from my 1960s childhood that I remembered, and resurrected, only recently.)

Eighteen years and I still haven't learned: The one thing a mother cannot do for her children is live the hard stuff or even carve out a shortcut. What that letter to my son contains, more than anything, are clues about his mother's dreams and fears, vanities and insecurities, strivings and humblings: a map of the terrain she's crossed, especially the steep and the rugged. If he saves it, what he will always have is a slantwise portrait of the mother I imagined and hoped I could be.

Text Only
Community News Network
E-edition
AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive
NDN Video
Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot
Must Read