Privilege Blog

Home Again Home Again, Or, Saturday Morning at 11:03am

My son is home from Argentina and Costa Rica. Where he had a phenomenal trip. Turns out that the privilege of higher education includes lots of opportunity to carouse. What happens in Princeton extends to Buenos Aires. I figured you’d want to know.

This week my daughter turned 23. Which turned out to mean some celebration, some glitches, and a world class meltdown. Same as it ever was.

My strongest feeling in the past few days has been of recognition. “Oh yes. I know this one.” My son, sitting on the sofa, head bent over a device of some sort. My daughter, crying and laughing at the same time. I know this one. I know these two.

When you have kids, if you pay attention, you become an expert. An expert in your kids. You might then make terrible errors in judgment, even so, but you have an undeniable body of knowledge.

I like that. I like to be an expert. All my years in the corporate world, despite my relative successes, I was essentially faking it. A Comparative Literature major who specialized in Epic Poetry, with sub-specialties of The Renaissance, French, and Italian Language, may not have sound footing in high technology. Someone prone to gazing off will not prevail over the ambitious, or the treacherous.

I have to stop here. Motherhood is certainly not the only road to self-understanding. If I hadn’t had kids, if I had chosen instead a career completely suited to my nature, I could still have experienced this ‘becoming expert’ – for which I am sure there is a single word, in some language. Probably Japanese. Not, however, pre-1700’s French or Italian.

One other thing. It wasn’t self-sacrificial, gathering information on my children over time. Watching them carefully. Now, when I recognize their patterns, I can feel my cognition and memory working, and my sense of self is reinforced. It kind of prickles. There would be pinging sounds, if we came with built-in sonar.

Who you are is what you learn. But then we have to try to do right by our knowledge.

28 Responses

  1. Your children are so very lucky to have a mother who has taken the time and energy to really *know* them. And it is so lovely how you see how this knowing has expanded your knowing. Beautiful post!

  2. My daughter is 29 and at times I still feel like I know her better than she knows herself. And some of the time I'm right. But mostly, as I get older, I sense the vast abyss of knowledge I do not yet have.

  3. I just wanted to say how much I love this post. How much it reminds me of my own mother. Someone who *knows*.

  4. Mr Paula literally ready my thoughts. When I take a deep breath, planning to say something but decide otherwise then he asks me "what did you want to say". I was just taking a deep breath. And he asks for the words I only thought. I like that magic. And of course there is the face of my mother, the moment a camera point towards her. Her camera-face. and lots more …
    Seems I am in your shoes: not being an expert at my job. It probably is due to all the interests – I would be bored with one topic. :-) Have a nice sunday!

  5. My son is the middle child, like me, and we butt heads often. Like me, he takes off on adventures, but unlike me, he doesn't stay in touch very well, thus earning the moniker "Mystery Man". Whenever I get truly depressed wondering why I don't "know" him anymore, he shows up or calls and I remember all over again that he the same person he's been all his life. And I am so grateful for that.

  6. How right you are and so beautifully written as ever LPC. I think I know my daughter almost better than she knows herself and she would probably admit this, albiet begrudingly! x

  7. This was beautifully written as all your posts. I know my children too, which is good, because I don't like surprises.

  8. Well said. I do know exactly what you mean about being an "Expert" In this media, it is so very hard not to sound like a twit. I am glad to hear that life is returning to normal. I hope that all is well.
    Always Bumby

  9. I love this post! So sweet and so true! I can think of nothing more amazing than becoming an expert in your children.

  10. Trusting my gut, makes me an expert…..99% of the time. Thank you God for giving me a gut.
    Great message this morning. Mine are 16 & 18 and I have my seat belt on ALL the time.

  11. This is so true. What makes me a bit sad sometimes is when I see them try to be someone they are not, like when I see my 10 year old music/ art/science lover pretend he really likes sports. Maybe his interests are changing? Maybe, but I can usually tell when he's feigning interest – a developing skill for a 10 year old.

  12. A lovely post. Thank you. Although I have seen and been there with my daughters from the very start, I must confess, that there are sides in both of them, I do not know. Sure, I know the home- side of them, but how they behave when I´m not there, is the part I am not aware of. I remember that it was painful for me to realize, that I never " grew up" in the eyes of my mother. She had built a certain picture of me ( a bad picture ), and refused to see that during my adult years I had changed; I still do change. At least I hope I do: )!

  13. I can read mine with a mere glance at their facial expression. Also, the first word they speak in a phone call tells all, doesn't it? Great post. Thank you for reminding me of this gift of motherhood. :-) xoxo

  14. LPC, I found you via La Belette Rouge, read some of the archives and am hooked. I think quite a few of my church friends (Episcopalian) are what you would call high WASP and I have learned a lot from them.

    I know what you mean about this knowing, though I would add that there is a difference between knowing and relating. Knowing is more important than relating.

  15. "…I can feel my own cognition and memory working and my sense of self is reinforced…"

    I had physical manifestations of missing LFG this past week. It always happens after being away from her for an entire week. Sometimes it scares me to have this level of connectivity and more so since I only have one child.


  16. I just stumbled across your blog. I love it! I'm going to poke around, I promise to put everything back where I found it!

  17. Loved this. After a weekend just *being* with and enjoying my daughters…this was the perfect thing to read. Thank you.

  18. A dear friend was with her son shopping for a prom tux and her son called for her help from the dressing room – "could she button his shirt, he had cheese doodle stuff on his hands" – I think this sort of call for help should be left only in the hands of an expert.
    I just filled out a form and used the word "expert."
    Is not motherhood and expert, one in the same?

  19. La Belette – Thank you. I am honored that someone who thinks about this all so carefully likes the post.

    Michele – I have the same experience when my kids venture out in ways and make choices that I didn't, or couldn't.

    agirl – Well yay then for mothers:).

    Paula – Mr. Paula sounds like a keeper).

    Loretta – Mystery Man! Ha! I called my son the God of Mute for several years. Sounds like he keeps in touch though…

  20. Lori – Thank you. Hope you are well.

    Semi – Thank you! I haven't heard my kids' reactions to this post yet:)….

    Belle – Thank you. And there are always surprises, right?

    Bumby – Thank you so much.

    Preppy – Thank you. I read your blog. Double thank you in that context.

  21. She Wore It Well – Aw. xox.

    Lisa – 16 AND 18 at the same time? Seat belts required. One way or another.

    Elizabeth – At that age, they start experiment with the social self, the constructed self. Seems sad to have them lose their innocence, but I think it's a crucial part of developing the skills to live in our society.

    Mette – It's hard for mothers to let their children grow up, some times.

    Preppy – Oh yes! The first word in a phone call! Exactly.

  22. Susan – Very nice to see you here.

    ADG – Aw. Your child-bearing years aren't over yet :p

    Kate – Welcome! Feel free to leave a mess:).

    Southern – Thank you. Glad you had a nice weekend.

    Buckeroomama – Thank you so much.

    PVE – Ha! Everything in life is "cheese doodle stuff" one way or another!

  23. I had a meltdown recently and told only a few close friends what was going on. Not my mother, which is rare as I tell her everything but didn't want to worry her. Also, I thought she might be bit disappointed.

    Funny thing was, I could tell she knew *exactly* what was going on anyway, just from a few of her carefully placed questions. Quite amazing.

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