Here are my kids. I’m pimping them out for this post. And they’ve approved this photo (sort of).Yesterday I was preparing my meal and hurrying to run out the door when my son, who was looking at a photo taken about 2 months ago, said, “Damn, Mom!”
He pointed to the picture and then to my “2 months later face,” staring at him. The face in the photo was a very puffy (30 lbs heavier), aging face. And even though that face was smiling, I know her well enough to know those were sad eyes.
My eyes moved from her face, that puffy sad-eyed face in the photo, to my son’s face, smiling from ear to ear. He put his hands on my current face and, with tears in his eyes said, “I’m so proud of you. Look at what you’ve done.” And of course, I started sloppily sobbing right along with him.
My grown son doesn’t show this sort of emotion too often, and when he does, I do my damnedest to take it in. To shut up, to not make it about me and how this moment is a mix of embarrassment and joy, sadness and raw vulnerability. This is a tender moment, and I’m not going to let my demons mess this up.
His emotions are a mix of relief and real joy. Joy, because yes, he’s happy for me, but also because he felt heard.
In August of this year, my son sat me down for a talk.
Right. Sat ME down for a talk. He and his sister really wanted me to stop smoking. He talked about how he wanted the family as a whole to be more active, to do more physical things together and to be our best selves. He proceeded to show me all about e-cigarettes and vaping, which, I’ll be honest, he knew a little TOO much about. He presented a solution and showed me what was possible. That day, I began a search for e-cigs that were ‘clean’, free of nasty ingredients, and I promptly ordered a starter kit. Less than two weeks after that, I had completely stopped smoking tobacco, and haven’t looked back.
Because They Said So.
And then yesterday happened. My kid noticing and acknowledging the crap out of me. It was almost too much to take. But I let it fill me up. I want to tuck it away for when my super powers are a little depleted or when some of my old habits want to stop by for a visit. In that moment, that connection, was better than any number on the scale. Better than a new job celebrated, or even a lottery won. Because I got how my kids root for me. They want me to win. They want me to be my best self. You might argue some of that is for selfish reasons. Because like it or not, they do emulate me. They look to my husband and I to see how the game of life is played. They want, hell they NEED, us to win.
I allowed life to beat my ass a bit. Sometimes more than a bit. When the road was rocky I took my sorry ass home. And I thought I hid it well. But they saw my sadness. They saw me give up on myself. They witnessed me checking out. And that was never more clear than yesterday. The joy in my son’s eyes signaled how my journey was affecting him. How my journey mattered to him. He’s kind, and loving, incredibly gifted and gainfully employed. He’s out of the starting gate into adulthood. And I’m reminded we are forever connected.
Even though my kids are building their own lives, they still look to me for how it’s done. How do I deal with loss or disappointment? How do I deal with difficult situations? How do I get through the tougher challenges? How do I get back on the road?
I could wallow in “why didn’t I do this sooner?” I won’t lie, there was a dip or two into that murky mud. A regret I wasn’t superhero mom, defeating my issues in my 30s or even better, my 20s.
Yet, when I look at my son, I realize whatever I did or didn’t do, we’ve gotten to this point in the road. Whatever I was or wasn’t for him, how ever many times I may not have been there in the right way or found it hard to balance my life, here was this young man. He’s extraordinary. He’s a soulful, caring human. He is more than I could have imagined.
Looking into my eyes, with tears in his eyes. There is gratitude. His mom is a BadAss. She is slaying dragons. She is fierce. She is seeing the light. She is thanking him for his gentle, focused, kick in the ass. He made an impact. It’s a huge validation for him, one that I hope he will tuck away.
As a parent I have renewed recognition that my children want exactly the same thing for me that I want for them. I want them to be happy. I want them to take care of themselves and find love and peace. I want them to find their purpose in life, to find work that satisfies and sustains them. I want them to be strong and celebrate their super powers. I want them to recognize they can be scared, and do it anyway.
They want the same for me. They don’t want a martyr, they don’t want me to give up. They want me to bend, not snap, in the wind. They want me to be my best self. And when I’m not, they step up and tell me the truth.
So I’m refilling my tank. I’m embracing this moment and tucking it away for when I need a little more power, when the road rises and gets a little tougher. In their eyes, I’m a BadAss.
Imperfect. A few battle scars. Definitely BadAss.