I have read and watched a couple of articles and interviews lately that I really enjoyed and wanted to write about.
1. "Mel Brooks and Our Mothers Were Right" by Ruth Marcus: Times Union, 5/8/11
"My mother used to annoy me by constantly brushing the hair out of my eyes. From my viewpoint, she was invading my personal space. It wasn't until I became a mother that I finally understood: That concept does not apply between parents and children. They are and always will be part of you."
This reminds me of the wonderful- and quite accurate- description of becoming a mother: when you become a mom, you grow another heart, but one outside your body, that is not protected and is open to hurt and pain. Even I, who have fairly rigid personal boundaries and have given birth to two girls who have the strongest, most iron-clad personal boundaries I have ever seen in human children (Alec seems to be a bit more flexible in this area), am amazed at how the lines of personal space and intimacy and love and trust and drippiness so easily blur when I am with them. And they want me right with them, all the time. Of course, they are only 6 and 9. I fully expect to be cut off in the next four to six years.
2. On the same day, in the same paper was an article about a father in Lowell, MA, whose 15 year old son Johnny had been killed 41 years ago, and whose murder had never been solved. The article describes how the father, William, doggedly and religiously contacted the Lowell police to ask if anything new had come in, and "reminding them about his son, reminding them not to let his son be forgotten."
William, now 83 years old, kept a notebook for all those years, in which he wrote down every memory he had of his son's short 15 years of life, and then every clue or shred of information that might possibly lead to the answers he so desperately sought about his son's killer. I can only imagine the fear one has of forgetting: forgetting moments you shared, places you went, things you did together, how your baby felt when you held them, smelled when you hugged them, and sounded when they laughed. So you write it down, every bit you can remember, so that it doesn't slip away from you as the months became years and the years become decades since you saw and touched them last.
And then last month, a miracle: three men were arrested for Johnny's murder. They had been teenagers with Johnny and Johnny had flirted with one of the boys' girlfriend at the time. They wanted to "teach him a lesson" and killed him.
Stories like this are amazing to me, and speak to the love and determination and resolve parents have in dealing with their children.
I love it because it so profoundly illustrates my core belief that a parent's basic function in life is to be the Last Great Defense between the child and the world. The Protector. The Advocate. The Cherisher. The Rememberer.
3. On one of her last shows, Oprah Winfrey had a lovely interview with Ralph Lauren, including time with his wife Ricky and his three grown children. Ralph and Ricky have been married for over 40 years, and when asked about their life together, she replied that while he had his business, her job in the family was to raise the children and take care of the house, and that both of them working together helped make their lives successful. When asked what his favorite family memory was about growing up, their oldest son David answered that he couldn't really pick a favorite, but that one thing that was most meaningful to him is the photo albums that his mom put together for him. "She takes all the pictures and writes the stories that are in the albums," he said. And what do you know, I thought: Mrs. Lauren is a SCRAPBOOKER.
The family was incredibly down to earth, family-focused, comfortable with each other, and all seemed to genuinely like each other. The children said that they always felt cherished by their parents, who never took off to go to events or vacations without them. They were home for dinner together, spent time on weekends together, and generally had a happy, stable, satisfying upbringing.
Kudos to the Laurens for putting in the time and energy necessary to have a functional family. They are reaping what they have sown.