Finals week, 2015. As Max walked out the door, he yelled at me (as he still does), “MOM! I’m leaving. I LOVE YOU.” I said, “Have a fantabulous day, buddy.” He gave me The Look. “I have to JOG for 30 minutes today.” I said, “Well, at least you don’t have to catch anyone.” “Wow, Mom,” he said. (Door slam.)
I was talking to a friend the other day about how my exercise regime has changed over the past several years. For many, many years, I ran. I ran 10ks. I ran biathlons and triathlons. I ran half marathons. I told my friend, “I don’t know what happened. One day I just didn’t feel like running any more. Sort of like Forrest Gump. Just like that. My running days were over.”
And I was okay with it. I filled the space with a different passion. Yoga. I was breathing. I was getting into my groove. I was getting my namaste on. I was trying to control myself to be the perfect mom, lawyer, friend. Well. That’s not the point of yoga. Yoga is, in large part, about letting go of what does not serve you.
Before one of his many concerts, I was tasked with finding Max a white shirt and then picking him and his brother up for the concert – all within one hour. Max called me, “Mom, when are you going to be home, I can’t be late for my concert.” I said, “Well, first I have to run into the store and get your white shirt then I have to drive there and pick you up.” Max said, “Mom, PLEASE stop being so passive-aggressive. I just want to know when you will be home.” Damn it. My kids and my yoga mat continue to teach me the same lesson. Let go. Let shit go.
I once excitedly told Shane, “John Cusack is twittering me on Facebook.” Shane said, “MOM, John Cusack isn’t twittering you. Stop making up words.” I said, “Yes he is.” Shane said, “Stop. Mom. Please.” Now that Shane lives on his own, several states away, I try hard to leave him alone to experience his independence. But sometimes my irrational mom fears kick in and I decide he’s been eaten by a bear, so I start to text-stalk him until he responds. “Shane. Shane. Shane.” “Mom.” “Okay. That’s all I needed. Love you.” “Love you too mom.” No twitter, no social media, no made up words, just letting all of that go. My Shane consistently teaches me that the simplest expression is usually the best.
This evening I came home after a long and stressful day, culminating with a few hours spent dealing with doctors and my mother’s cancer treatment. Max had a friend over. I stopped by his room and said, “Hey, how’s it going?” He said, “Pretty good.” I said, “Cool. It was fucking awful getting back here. But good to be home.” I went to my room and realized that I had failed to initiate my mom filter in front of his friend. For me, often, what I let go of comes right out of my mouth before I can catch it. And my Max didn’t judge me or say anything about his mom’s language. Because sometimes, often, you can’t judge someone by what they say when they are tired, or in pain, or upset, or stressed out.
A while back, before we knew my mom had cancer, Max told me he was stressed out. I told him, maybe you need to take something off your plate. His response was, “I can’t give up physics or trig because it’s the only thing me and grandma can do together.” So Max kept his full plate. He and his grandma continued to do physics and trig together. These days whenever he leaves the house, I hear him say, “Goodbye, Grandma! I love you!” I am so grateful that he let go of being stressed, that they get to have this time together, that they get to plot their physics and trig takeover of the world. We so need their brilliant, artistic, courageous, quirky, giant brains, and all the other brains like theirs to lead the next rebellion. I’ll supply the snacks.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. While I was waiting for my mother to badass her way through another radiation session at the cancer center I bought myself an unreasonable amount of goodies from Sephora online. And, once we got home, I went to CVS and got myself a large box of chocolates. A good part of the box is now gone. Happy Valentine’s Day to me.
Happy Valentine’s Day to you. May you have peace, breathe deeply, and have no need to run to or away from anything. May you eat all the chocolate you want because love eradicates calories or even caring about damn calories at all. May you have someone in your life who can help you with homework you don’t quite understand. May you let go of all that does not serve you.
May you love yourself with the huge love you give everyone else in your life.