Yesterday I was talking to Chel about our sons. She was describing a very specific attribute that her son has and was sort of wondering where that comes from. I jokingly said to her “He gets that from me” and we both laughed. She paused and then said, “Maybe so”.
It got me to wondering how much we pass on to our children based on the friends who influenced us rather than genetic ties. Strangely enough even though I hadn’t seen or talked to Chel or our best friend Alice for decades, I had to admit I carried pieces of them with me still. Being reunited with them both was like filling a hole in my heart that I was pretending didn’t exist.
The truth is that many years ago when we were at a very crucial and defining time in our lives we were as close as anyone could be. We didn’t talk about it. We didn’t analyze it. We were busy living and growing up and learning through experience rather than contemplation. We were fourteen and fifteen and eventually sixteen and we each moved on to our adult states. We loved each other and depended on each other, but we recognized our differences and allowed each other to move on to become what we became. Only now, looking back at who we were does the fabric of who we are seem intertwined, even during the time when we were not physically present in each other’s lives.
I was the brave one. I was fearless in fact and often foolishly so. Perhaps I still am. But the upside of that is that I was the one most likely to cross boundaries and experience life from many angles and learn to understand a variety of perspectives from inside a variety of camps. I am also the clown.
Alice was the most analytical and probably played it safe more than Chel and I. She used her resources wisely and gained herself a position where she can be very generous and kind and will always take the high road and do the right thing. I think Alice has a kind of built in safety net that gives her a bit more self preservation than Chel and I have ever had. She’s a good listener and a great problem solver.
Chel is the emotional and impartial one. She makes a terrific mediator and would never take sides. She has always been the responsible one who manages to get burdened with the tragically flawed. She has a heart the size of Texas. She is the one who cries when she’s happy as well as when she is sad. She has always worked for everything she has and believes in truth honesty and justice for all. Yes, she really is that corny.
Each of us gave birth to one perfect son in the 80s. They were raised without knowing each other. Somehow our three sons seem to have more in common as adults than their mothers who were the best of friends growing up. Each of the boys are extremely intellectual and remarkably clean cut and very artistic. It’s kind of uncanny seeing the similarities. Then when Chel was talking about her son being so comfortable with cultural variety it dawned on me. Perhaps we nurtured in our boys what we loved about each other. What an amazing gift a mother’s love is. It makes me wonder what qualities I may possess because of someone my mother knew and loved but never mentioned.....