Maybe 10 years ago, Max was sitting at the kitchen table doing homework and sighing. Audibly. Then he announced, “This is too hard. I’m going to sue them for giving me too much homework.” The Wasband said, “You can’t sue for that.” Max said, “Yes I can. They can’t do this to me. It’s emotional distress.”
Tonight an emotionally distressed Max and I were in the kitchen for about an hour discussing existentialism and motivation and the meaning of life. I had a similar conversation with his older brother Shane about five years ago. What does this all mean, Mom? I told both of them, there’s a Buddhist saying. The only way out is through. I wish I could make this journey easier for you. Or completely eradicate the pain and the failure and the difficulty. But I can’t. Because this is important shit. If you don’t suffer, you will never understand human suffering. You have to know this to love and accept other people. And if you don’t fail, you’ll never succeed. Because no one who succeeds has not tasted failure.
I love and miss overhearing the daily conversations of my sons. When Max got braces they discussed potential nicknames for him: “Transformer,” “Gridlock,” and of course the usual “Metalmouth” and “Brace Face.” Later, Max said to me, “Mom, you realize that’s just bracism.” My personal favorite comment from my kids was overheard on a suddenly quiet Sunday afternoon: “Well, we’re out of duct tape. Now what?”
Shane called me last week from Oregon. He’s getting his first apartment on his own. I had forgotten what a huge and momentous occasion that is. He said, “I guess this is what it’s like to be an adult.” Except he had to pay $50 for every application for every apartment he applied to be considered for. Which is bullshit and taking advantage of my 20 year old son who is responsible and just trying to do the right thing. That’s straight up bracism. I’m sending him some duct tape.
Adulting means hanging with our kids in the kitchen having the difficult conversations. Adulting means remembering that once upon a time we were kids trying to make our way in an adult world that maybe judged us based on our clothes and hair and music. Adulting means putting up with being charged for bullshit that should simply be an experience. Not a cost. Adulting means letting go of judgment and letting in kindness and love. Because these kids are going to be taking care of us. And they are pretty damn amazing kids. I know. I helped raise two of them. You’re welcome.
“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies. ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.'” – Kurt Vonnegut