Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mother's boy

Shortly after writing my last sentence in yesterday's blog, I visited another. The post was about the author's brother and sister-in-law getting a divorce after 15 years of marriage and 3 children.

I felt a little shaky with my own (anonymously) public declaration; and reading the post reminded me that there's a whole community out there who is going to be affected by the ripples of going through with this.

I pictured myself going in to the offices, saying the words, "I want a divorce". Such cognitive dissonance; in my imagination I couldn't pair myself with those words.

It's just a preliminary consult. It's just seeing what the options are, and the legal framework--familiarizing myself with the contours of the process. A couple weeks ago I confided my anxiety about action vs inaction to Sharon. I've been telling the few people in real life who are privy to this that I've not taken action so far because 'I can't see my way forward', or, 'I'm waiting for a path to open up to give me some indication how to proceed.' Were those just excuses? I wondered. Sharon suggested that it's valid and important to be moving toward something, not just away-from. She suggested that I do something to satisfy the urge toward action, while being alert for guidance. In other words, do action and inaction together.

I felt comforted in the validation that I need to see the next step ahead of me before I take it. It freed me from the feeling that I was being cowardly in not moving yet...freed me from the sensation of being pushed from behind toward something I know I'm going to do anyway, but need to do according to my own signals and instincts.

Then I had a dream. In the dream a gun had come into our house and I didn't know how it had gotten there. It was on a table in the dining room. I'd already admonished Scott that he was not to touch it. I'd assumed that my saying would have the same effect as actual physical removal. Even in the dream there was an awareness that this was foolishness: the sight of something compelling for Scott would obliterate the memory of any flimsy verbal prohibitions. And sure enough, he was out in the yard with it, a loaded handgun. I felt myself cross that "That's IT" line. It was my "running out in the street" moment--sort of the classic justification of a parent being so freaked out by a child's headlong rush to the street that they express their fear and relief in physical punishment. Scott having disobeyed me and taking the gun was my "That's IT". I took him in the house and placed him on the bed and began to hit him. Only I couldn't. It was as if gravity curved, or there was a repellent magnetic charge around him. My blows merely fell to the sides of him. Or, if I did manage to penetrate the 'shield', by the time my hand reached his skin all the force had been bled out of it.

So is there any significance to having had this dream shortly after reaching a feeling of peace in not taking positive action? Something in our house is deadly dangerous for him, and by extension, all of us. Is that 'something' our marriage?

So we're riding home in the car yesterday after I picked him up from school. "Mom, a 'teacher's pet' is when someone listens to their teacher and does what they ask, right?"

"Well, being respectful to your teacher isn't necessarily being a teacher's pet." (frantically trying to come up with the distinction: 'kiss-ass' is really not an appropriate explanation). "A teacher's pet is someone who's trying to get the teacher to like them--" (no, no, no. That's not it).

"So someone the teacher likes is a teacher's pet?"

(shit) (Will he understand the idea of 'manipulation?') "Well, someone who tries to get the teacher to like them by tattling on someone else, that's kind of being a teacher's pet."


"Yes, Scott."

"What's a 'mother's boy'?"


"Well, it's a man who hasn't grown away from his mother yet..." (lame, lame)

"You mean he loves his mother?"

"Well" (floundering gracelessly), " it's more like he is still...connected...to his mother" and more such stumblings, trying to articulate, on the fly, the concepts of differentiation and appropriate level of need. "A man can love his mother and that doesn't mean he's a mother's boy."

"You mean he loves his mother too much?" (AAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!)

"Well, maybe it means he needs his mother too much. You know, a baby needs his mother all the time, and then when he's one he doesn't need her so much; when he's 5 he doesn't need her as much, when he's 7, when he's 11, and when he's grown-up he doesn't need her anymore at all even though he still loves her. (God, please don't let me be implicitly saying that a boy who loves and needs his mother is a mother's boy!) "A mother's boy needs his mother like a baby needs his mother when he should be all grown up."

While still struggling to refine the abstract concept down into some words that are easily digested by a 7-yr-old, he signaled that the subject was closed: "I don't want to talk anymore."

God knows what I've planted, or fertilized in his mind. I just hope I didn't mess up too badly.


Mrs. Spit said...

I think Scott is growing up, which means, when done healthily, he's growing away. He's figuring out his boundaries, where he fits into things, how he wants to relate.

You reiterated that it's good to love your mum, respect your teacher, and that's a good thing.

I think you did ok.

Lori said...

I can't come up with anything better to explain Teacher's Pet and Mother's Boy. I think you did fine.

As for the gun...I got nothing. I'm haunted by the image, though.