Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: mother

Mama’s Boy

My mother was in her yoga class in Boca Raton last week, doing one of her chair exercise, when another woman accidentally moved the chair that my mother was leaning against for support.  My mother fell back, hit the floor, and when she stood up, the teacher noticed blood.  The paramedics quickly came and she received three stitches in the back of her head.   She’s OK now, or “Perfectly fine,” as she always says, and already back in the exercise class.

I was anxious that day, naturally worried about her.

I read this article in the Wall Street Journal titled, “Who Are You Calling a Mama’s Boy?”   The writer, a mother of a son,  poses the thought, “A strong mother-son bond is crucial, but heaven help the mom who admits being emotionally close to her son.”

So much of who we are comes from our parents.

Have you noticed that I rarely write about sports?  My father never watched any sporting events. We never watched a baseball game together or played any games.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t do things with him, but they were always cultural events, like the theater or concerts.   He always treated me as a little adult.   Because of that, I never clicked with him in the emotional way as I did with my mother.   I played board games with my mother.   I wrote silly stories for her to read.   I did magic and puppet shows for her.   As an only child, I turned to my mother for companionship.

As a teenage boy, my relationship shifted.  All of a sudden, I didn’t want to be seen with my mother.   How “gay!”

Nowadays, I laugh when I read my mom blogging friends complain about how their adorable little boys — now teenagers — don’t want to be hugged anymore!   Of course they don’t.   I still remember the horror of being in the supermarket WITH YOUR MOTHER, and being SEEN doing it!

Over the last year, I lived with my mother in Queens.  I found the whole experience somewhat embarrassing, even if the reason was related to my separation.   What type of adult man should not be living with his mother?  I joked about it online, but it did hurt my self-esteem.   But it was a positive experience.  I experienced a relationship with my mother as if we were roommates — as two adults.

Well, not all the time.

“Wear a hat!” she would yell at me as I left the house in December, in the exact same tone as when I was in third grade.

But we found common interests, and discovered that we could even watch an R-rated movie together without needing therapy.

I would not feel so comfortable with my father.

I do have some qualities of a “mama’s boy.”   At the same time, I don’t, thanks to my mother herself.    She never hovered over me, and even went back to work when I started school.  I was never her entire life.

I still think about my father, who passed away in 2005, a few months after I started my blog.   I’m still unsure how to process his death, and what it means to me. It is odd to have someone just disappear from your life — forever.

All these emotions are flying through my nerves, because talking about my parents is talking about myself.   And there is no more difficult subject to write about than yourself.

Mom, Don’t Forget to Wear Your Hat

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At some point in every adult’s life, the "child" begins to worry about his parents.  This is a passage of life because before that, it was the parents who mostly worried about the child.  For some, this happens at an early age.  A parent could be sick, unattentive, or die early, making the child mature early. 

This was not my case.   My parents never wanted me to worry.  Instead they were the ones who constantly worried about me.

Today, there’s a blizzard in New York.  Tomorrow, my mother will schlep from Queens into Manhattan to go to work.  I called her tonight and told her "to dress warm" tomorrow — knowing she had a bout with pneumonia last year.  It reminded me of when I was a kid and she used to make me wear a hat. 

Are our roles reversing?

She enjoys working downtown, but at some point, she might want to retire.  Would she enjoy being in the nice weather during the winter?  She recently visited her friend Shirley in Florida. Shirley lives in one of those "retirement villages" in Boca Raton.  My mother says she "wasn’t crazy about Florida," mostly because it made her feel older than she actually feels inside.

My mother brought up an example:

"Shirley and I went to the clubhouse for "Movie Night."  They were showing "Bull Durham."  Halfway through the movie there was a fire alarm.  Everyone got up to exit the clubhouse, but there were so many older residents with walkers and canes, that it took everyone twenty minutes to exit the clubhouse.  It ended up being a false alarm — but we skipped the rest of the movie, not wanting to wait another twenty minutes while everyone sat down again."

After she retires, the logical next step would be for her to move out here  — maybe during the winter months — assuming I’m still living in Los Angeles.  After all, I’m the only child.  But where would she live?  My mother doesn’t know how to drive, despite having a New York State driver’s license, which is the funniest thing in the universe to me.  My mother said that if she moves here, she’ll take a refresher course in driving.  Little does she know that if she is going to drive around Los Angeles, that’s the time when I move somewhere else.

All in all, my mother seems to be doing pretty well since my father’s passing.  Although she says it is "too quiet" at night, she’s been going out to concerts and movies on weekends.  In May, she’s even going with two women friends on a bus trip through Spain and Portugal.  That’s something she could have never dragged my father to do.

I’m still such a kid myself — still unsettled with work and marriage.  I wish I could be more of help to her, instead of it always being the other way around.  But, let’s see — at least I have my blog to entertain her with during the day!   I know she reads it every day, because I see her in the stats — she is my most consistent reader.

Although, this weekend, we did have a little mother-son discussion about my blog:

"Neil, one of my friends who I play Mahjong with reads your blodge and she wanted me to tell you something important."

"Is this Suzanne we’re talking about?"

"Yes, how did you know?"

"Because she’s your only friend who would know how to find a blog online.  What did she say?"

"She said she likes the blodge  a lot.."

"Blog!  Blog!"

"OK, blodge… but she has one small complaint.  There’s too much of "that thing.""

"What "thing?""

"That "thing" you talk about too much."

"What are you talking about, Mom?"

"That "thing" you talk to."

"Oh… that "thing.""

"Yes.  She said to just "cut it out."   I mean, not the "thing."   Don’t cut off the "thing."  She meant to "cut it out" of the blodge… to stop talking about the "thing," not  to cut your "thing" itself, G-d forbid."

"I understand, Mom.  You didn’t raise an idiot."  

"And I agree…"

"About what?  Oh…"

"I… um… who in the world talks to their "thing?""

"Yeah…"

"So, anyway…"

"Uh…well, uh…so, Mom, (changing the subject)… are you watching the Olympics…?"

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