Your mother marks you first. Maybe you were too young to remember when you first suckled at your mother’s breast, or the first time she actively ignored your cries, doesn’t matter, the mark was being made. Criticisms and affirmations, facial expressions and that floppy footed gait of yours, all handed down from your mother. Generational preferences made for you before your mother even considered you. Hate them all you want, in the end, the density of your blood will eventually convince you to concede to the point where you wear that mark, reluctantly at first maybe, and then without shame.

My mother died ten years ago this coming September. When she died, my brothers and I instinctively looked to our father for some sort of comfort. All I remember finding was a man wrestling with his own grief and aside from an assortment of expiring condiments, an empty refrigerator. I remember the sadness of that refrigerator because I checked it out of habit, to see if there was any iced tea in it. My mother was a pretty heavy tea drinker, hot tea mainly, but she kept iced tea in the refrigerator too. The relatively large amount of empty cubic feet he had, compared to the small amount of condiments slowly expiring in his fridge, got to be kind of downer. It took me a while to figure out that the old man had no inclination to make any tea, and so I started making my own.

A pot of water, three large Lipton tea bags, and sugar to taste obviously. Other than the twenty-three chromosomes gifted to me, the taste for tea, and the ‘recipe’ lived on so to speak. Liking and making iced tea was/isn’t that big of a deal, but it was/is a connection to my mother that I found a bit of comfort in. I take comfort in mothers marking you first, mark you ’til the very end.

Tough Love (my three sons)

Until recently I had one son.  One son who for better or worse has learned, both directly and indirectly from me what it will mean to be a man.  God bless that boy, because while I don’t consider myself a total bustout, I don’t consider myself a total success either.  Since I was the oldest, my mother and father were not above telling me that they were learning as they went.  I feel like that with my oldest son… and I guess this is both an apology and an explanation.

But that aside, any father with a spine running down his back wants to give his children things to prepare them for this world.  For that matter, any father with a spine running down his back wants to make certain that his son is prepared for this world.  As a father, I want my son(s) to do whatever they want in this world.

I inserted that clip at the top because around the three to four minute mark that father and son have a moment.  It is I guess, the apology and the explanation.

They call it tough love.  If applied properly it can motivate, nurture and teach your child without coddling them.  If applied improperly, it can be hurtful, isolating, and destroy your child’s spirit before you realize the damage you have inflicted.  And knowing that risk, a man will risk the down side of child rearing to separate his own weaknesses from his children.  Recognizing your shortcomings in  your children is frustrating to say the least.  Correcting your shortcomings in your children without damaging them is something like a rebirth of self.  But more importantly it is building your children to be a better whatever it is they want to be.  The family DNA re-engineered and improved upon.  The lesson gets passed on to the next generation, and so on and so on and so on (son).  Money is not what we seek…we just want to be…beautiful and free.