In her beautiful essay "On Being Mom", Anna Quindlen writes, "If not for the photographs, I might have a hard time believing they ever existed."
After my second son left for college and with the third son not far behind, I found myself redoing this corner of the kitchen with old black & white photos, a school desk only I can fit into, and "The Rules to Always Being a Gentleman".
Pure nostalgia. These days, when I walk in with far fewer bags of groceries, I am comforted by the little faces and a remembrance of four velvety noses.
The "Rules" still stand. Laws, really, and each one is excellent. I referred to them frequently in my quest to raise good boys. I turned around, combed my hair, took a sip of coffee, and the boys are men. Good men. Are the rules the reason why? Am I? I don't think so.
Again, Ms. Quindlen says it so well:
Even today, I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be.
The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That's what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts.
It just took a while to figure out who the experts were.
Happy Mother's Day, friends.
Click here for the full text of Ms. Quindlen's essay. Photos by Renn Kuhnen.