Heart and Soul

The boys and me

Maybe about six years ago – Max was working on an argument to get me to buy him an i-Pad. He said, “Mom, at least four kids in my grade have i-Pads or i-Pad minis. I really want one.” I said, “Max, if you want one, you need to earn it yourself. If I buy you an i-Pad now, what will I get you when you’re 21?” He said, “A Lamborghini?” Just then Shane walked in the door from school, ”Shane, how many of YOUR friends have i-Pads?” I asked. “Mom,” he said, “My friends don’t have i-Pads. Max is in a different generation.” And just like that, argument done.

If you asked me for a word to describe my Shane, it would be “steadfast.” I didn’t come up with that defining word for him. At his bar mitzvah, our rabbi did. And he asked me later, “What does that mean?” And I told him, “It means you. It is you. You are absolutely, completely, rock solid, steady, and true.” I never had to wake Shane up for school or work. While I operate on a time space continuum that is mutable and usually involves sliding into courtrooms 10 minutes late (in amazing heels), my Shane has the grace and sense of time. Among his many other gifts: his writing, his films, his photos, his quiet ability to listen and not judge.

When he left for his first job, several years ago, he fortified himself with a large plate of scrambled eggs, two cups of coffee, two large cinnamon rolls, and a vitamin B-12 capsule. “Why are you taking that, Shane,” Max asked. “Because I’m going to have a really long day at work and I need extra energy and this is a natural way to get it,” Shane said. Meanwhile, back at home, Max spent his day eating pickles and Kit Kat bars and learning about the Banach-Tarski paradox on YouTube.

A beloved friend once told me, you should be proud of yourself and know you’re a good mom if your children are different from each other. That means you did your job as a parent – letting them grow up to be their own unique selves. By that measure, I’m a good mom. (Sigh of relief.)

Tonight I went to see Max perform with the Honor Band at the 57th Annual Northern California Band and Choir Directors Association. It was the third time he’s performed as part of the percussion section. He doesn’t care about i-Pads or i-Pad minis anymore. He doesn’t really give a shit about many material things, except sketch pads, perfect pens, and his beloved musical instruments. I can spot my kid onstage in a crowd by the bright red hair in a ponytail. By his intense stare at the conductor. And by the huge, relieved smile at the end of the performance. There is nothing like a Max smile. It could make a chopped up pea reassemble itself into the Sun. (See, Banach-Tarski, above.)

And so, I think my defining word for my Max is, “earnest.” As in, intense, focused (loving). And how ironic. That’s kinda close to “steadfast.” But not exactly. Because my sons, while absolutely brothers, are very different. Max is my heart. Shane is my soul.

January 2019 was fucking hard. There was an inordinate amount of eclipses. There was a lot of heartache and bad news. For those of us who remain single, Valentine’s Day is approaching and that’s a bit traumatic for those of us who had this notion of happily ever after right now. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. It will happen.

I’m still believing. So should you. Heart and soul.

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