Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I just want them to be happy.

I think most mothers just want their kids to be happy. Even my mother wanted me to be happy. (She just never approved of how I was trying to make the happiness happen.) Mothers (and fathers) may want other things for their kids... success, a better or easier life, more loving marriages. But those are only indicators. They are not happiness.

I'm no different. When I had lunch with my older son, I listened to him talk about his work, his dreams, his obstacles, and all I could think was: "Just BE happy."

But I can't make him happy. Can't even share whatever it is that makes me happy, like sharing a bite of pie. He has to find/make his own joy in life. He's a brilliant guy. He's always been brilliant. It's his blessing and his curse... Because academics came easy to him as a child, he rarely studied. He got good enough grades with little effort and never learned that hard work can be rewarding in its own right. I say never. I don't believe that. He's learning.

He kept surprising me on this visit. He baked a scrumptious cherry pie from scratch. He took his wife and me to a girlie movie and never complained once. It was his idea that we go out to lunch together, just the two of us, and when he asked what I was in the mood for, I finally admitted (to him) that I really wanted a steak, and that I would actually like to gamble. (Afterall it was Las Vegas.) He laughed and took me to a casino where I could have both. I spent $5 playing nickel poker before I got tired of it. I am obviously not my Nana.

I had not seen my son in a while, but he'd grown up at some point when I wasn't looking. He takes his jobs seriously... not just work, but his role as husband and dad. I heard him tell his son he wished he'd stayed in the Navy, something I'd never heard him admit before. He's still the same in many ways, but there's a maturity that accompanies his actions now that I watched with fresh eyes and increasing pleasure.

He didn't get that way because his life has been easy. He carries pain every day, physical and emotional. He is still recovering from his fourth hernia operation, has so much plastic mesh holding his guts in, it has to hurt to just bend over. He must constantly adjust medication for a bipolar disorder and epilepsy. He steers his boat through troubled waters with grim resignation.

Just BE happy I scream silently. Some part of me worries that he may not be, and that there's nothing I can do or say to change that... part of me knows it's his job to figure it out. And most of me knows that he's already on the path.

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