Attempted to snap this photo of my teen son during a Mom don’t take my picture phase. This phase lasted longer than most childhood phases, but in retrospect they were all quite fleeting.
For many years, whenever I aimed a camera at my daughter, her hand whipped up in front of the lens. My son recently pointed out that, had I saved all those shots, we would have a complete chronicle of the palm of her hand as it matured from elementary school to college.
Share dinner with me – okay. But don’t take my picture!
I didn’t know my father well. He died last year (after several years of being mostly gone due to strokes). He wasn’t an easy person to understand. In the decades that I knew him, I could count on one hand the number of times that he went internal and talked about what was going on inside him. We are so different in that way – introspective is my favorite state.
Recently, something got me started remembering his driving.
When I was very young, I thought that freeways were an endless race. And considering the number of cars my dad passed, I thought we had a good shot at winning the race. If only we didn’t always have to exit to go to grandma’s house! He had an MG Midget which he adored and gave up because it had no room for kids. He knew everything about cars and spent much time tinkering with ours.
Conversely, coming back after any trip, when he got to our neighborhood, he would slow to a maddening crawl. Was he surveying his domain? Or reluctant to return home?
My stomach still clutches at the memory of drives back from family holiday get-togethers when he was dangerously drunk. One night he went on and on about how interesting it was to see double of everything: twice the lanes, twice the traffic signals. As soon as I got my driver’s license I became our designated driver. Thinking about this still infuriates me. It might be time to think about forgiveness. Now that I have learned about addiction (because Someone I Love Dearly (SILD) is a heroin addict), I see that my father was probably a high functioning alcoholic. He drank every day. But it was the family gatherings that were most noticeably out of control.
Only after my father retired was I aware of him having much fun. (Did he change or did I grow up?) Golf was a big part of that retirement pleasure. My kids got their first driving lesson in his golf cart. They were 10, maybe, and for years afterwards gleefully informed me of all the stuff he let them try, as soon as they were out of my sight. He was a complete control freak but just as big a rebel when it came to other people’s rules. In this case mine.
My novels apply a filter, sieve, microscope, and paintbrush to my life, with the occasional fun-house mirror or handful of feathers thrown in.
Scar Jewelry evolved through disparate experiences and observations that gradually connected inside my head:
When my twins were toddlers, a friend would look to incite reaction in me by stage whispering to them, I know things about your parents.
A decade later, I was hanging around with other parents at our kids’ track practice, when one mom came over to introduce herself. Her husband had pointed me out and said, She’s wearing a Billy Zoom t-shirt. Zoom was the guitarist for an obscure but legendary punk band, X, which we had all loved long before. From that point we became friends – and I looked at the other parents differently, wondering who they were before they were parents.
We set aside so much of ourselves to become parents. Some of us never regain those set-asides. Most children don’t much care about the non-parent parts of us and can be so dismissive of what matters – or used to matter – to us.
As parents, we don’t always appreciate what matters to our children. We make decisions that can dramatically and permanently change their lives, yet we rarely consult them as we decide what’s best for them. Hey, we’re the grown-ups, right?
I am adopted. As an adult I was lucky enough to be contacted by my birth family. It turns out that after I got adopted away, my birth parents married each other and had five more children. Meeting them transformed my views on many things and they’ve been a part of my life ever since.
By the way – though it may seem otherwise – nothing I’ve said here gives away Scar Jewelry‘s secrets!
My blog. I’ve been at it well over a month now. In addition to posts I’ve actually posted, I’ve got posts I’ve thought about posting, as well as posts in progress. The distinctions are fuzzing up and I realize it’s inevitable. At some point I’ll inadvertently repeat myself. I don’t want to do that but don’t see how to avoid it. Maybe I could convince my kids to read each post before I publish it. They’re so good at detecting my repetitions. We know, Mom. (Is eye-rolling allowed in the blogosphere?)