R.L. SAUNDERS

writer attempting real life in the middle of everybody else's vacation

Go. Do. Be.

I became a mother very young. Too young. Despite that, or maybe because of that, I wanted to be a certain kind of mother. One who raises her son to become an independent man and not a grown child who exists to fill holes in her own life. In all my immaturity, I feel like I had a decent handle on that, if nothing else. And that’s pretty good, considering it was well before Teen Mom Tragedy TV was here, which would have been a great source for What Not To Do.

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By independent “man” I don’t mean the alpha lumberjack football coach type. Jesus, I was afraid to even let him play with toys I didn’t feel were gender-neutral enough (whatever that means). I just mean that I wanted him to be happy and emotionally self-reliant. I didn’t want to raise a mama’s boy. I figured I owed him that, at least, since he didn’t have a choice in being born to a broke teenager. If nothing else, I could help make sure he’d be a competent adult someday.

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I tried not to smother or hover (sometimes I failed). I tried not to make him feel responsible for my feelings or to monopolize his time, especially during his tween and teen years. I wanted him to go do stuff and learn lessons the hard way and figure out what kind of person he wants to be in his real life outside his role as my first-born.

And as it happens, he’s all the things I hoped he’d “at least” be and so much more. He’s also smart and dashing and has a big heart and incredible humility and work ethic. And a whole bunch of other things I feel lucky to have in a child, but don’t feel at all responsible for. Genuinely, I don’t. He is who he decided to be.

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Except here’s the thing. All those feelings about maintaining  a healthy respect for his personhood and yada-yada-yada  have evaporated in the last day or two and I’m kind of scared of myself. I’m losing it a little. I’ll get it back, I know that. But I feel blindsided, which is weird because I’ve very actively prepared for this.

I never pretended this wasn’t coming or that it would be easy. I practiced a lot of positive self-talk. Like, “It’s going to be really hard because you’ve never been without him in your entire adult life. It’s not about you, though, so whatever you do, just keep your shit together.”

I was ready. He’s moving to the mainland and going to college, then if all goes well, he’ll  find work that means something to him and a family of his own that means everything to him. It’s good. It’s great. He’s going to be fine. I’m going to be fine. We’re all going to be fine. Nobody panic. Everybody breathe, mostly me. Because my kid? He’s breathing fine. He’s the calm, self-assured guy I hoped he’d be.

And just think, I only have to do this two more times, with my only daughter and my last baby.

I’m so not going to make it.

Yes I am.

For sure.

Probably.

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A few running thoughts

I’ve always felt that I look ridiculous when I run. Like a duck. A running duck. So I didn’t do it very often (also because it’s hard). Then just as I got to the stage in my life where I don’t give a flying duck about what I look like while running, my knees got pretty bad.

Double knee surgery made things way better, but I’d waited too long and it was uglier in there than the surgeon figured. That means I’m not technically supposed to do much high impact stuff, like tap dancing and running.

I tap danced anyway, though, because I don’t like being told what to do. (Except by editors who want my book. I do whatever they say.) And I loved it a lot, even though it hurt like a sombitch.

Unfortunately, my tap teacher was one of those Broadway star types so he moved back to NYC and left me here to rot in Key West. Which meant there was only one act of defiance left. Running.

I’m not stupid. I know I can’t just up and run like a normal-kneed person. But for the past week I’ve been trying this toe-ball-heel jogging thing. Ballerina running, I guess. I’m sure I look extra super ridiculous as the neighborhood ballerina duck jogger lady, but I’ve had very little pain.  And while I probably don’t even go a mile, it feels good to do something I’m not supposed to be able to do.

Neighborhood ballerina duck jogger lady sighting

Neighborhood ballerina duck jogger lady sighting

I hope it’s not a fluke and that I really found a way to run without further wrecking my knees. I also hope these dumb little runs, as short and silly as they sound, will be enough weight-bearing exercise to help prevent other osteobadthings later in life.

But even if it turns out that I’m doing something bad for me knees, what do I need to save them for? I don’t need the guys shoving my carcass into the inferno thing at the crematorium to be like, “Wow, did you see the knees on that one?” “Yeah, bro, bet she had wicked good cartilage for an old lady.”

No thanks. I want to use my knees all up before I die. Besides, how far can we really be from some kind of synthetic cartilage or something?

Weird how I started longing to do something I was never even remotely interested in when my knees were good. I guess that’s how we are. Don’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone. Stupid humans.

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