The first job I ever had was feeding the neighbors’ cats. Two cats, one week. They paid me twenty dollars, which was a fortune. I bought books.
This summer T has a couple of jobs. He babysits B while I have my piano lesson. And we write book reviews together for Kid Stuff Magazine. For each review he’s paid $25 and so far he’s spent the majority of his earnings on books.
T and I are a lot alike. We both read. We both like alone time. We both imagine vastly different lives for ourselves than the ones we currently inhabit, not out of restlessness but curiosity. We’re both mostly happy people with occasional forays into bleak moments. Of all my boys, he’s the one I can see adopting a professional writing life, though at the moment his goal is to be a naval officer.
I wonder, sometimes, if I’m the best mother for him. I suspect there’s a mother out there who would give him more of what he needs without even having to make much of an effort. I’m a good mom, but there are things I fail to do, or notice, or react to. Someone else might better serve his interests.
But he’s stuck with me, and me with him.
Several years ago we went to the movies together, just the two of us. It started to rain as we walked from our parking spot to downtown, so I hefted him onto my back and we ran the rest of the way, both of us laughing, both of us dripping a bit in the theatre lobby. “I hope we always go to the movies together,” I said to him. And I could picture it, just the two of us, me aging and frail, him tall and strong and quiet and kind to his weakening mother. We haven’t been to the movies on our own since that summer evening. See? Another mother may have followed through.
I think I’ll go make a date.