I really can’t complain.
I know I have no right to complain; but I am going to do my best to complain, anyway.
My problem? I have never been able to identify with nor wholeheartedly embrace the choices my thirty-five year old son makes.
His offense? He persistently refuses to live the life I would have him live, or make the choices I would have him make. He is smart and he is educated, but he has no significant other, no noteworthy means of supporting himself. He manages to get by with some subsidy, all while marching to the beat of a drummer only he can hear, God bless him.
I mean, I get it that I in my sixties am the child of the “Sixties.” Transforming our world was our ministry, our call, our manifest destiny. We had the Beatles, Civil Rights, Feminism, a Cold War, the Vietnam War, we walked on the moon.
He, on the other hand is a Gen X child of the “eighties.” They have heavy metal music (sigh), AIDS, gay rights, plus a few of their own wars and 9-11's aftermath to cope with - but what he and his generation’s role will be, is not clear at all to me.
I will have to read the book when it comes out, I should live so long.
Reflecting on it, I don’t know how we got here. When I was thirty-five he was nine, we were living on a commune in Virginia, and I was reading the Lord of the Rings to him. It took a really long time but we loved sharing those books together, a peak father and son memory. Then life happened and he grew up.
To be honest, it occurs to me that, when compared with how my father must have felt when I was thirty-five, I get off pretty easily.
By the time I was my son’s age I had moved across the world to live on an Israeli kibbutz, drafted to serve in the Israeli army, married, changed our family name, had a son, returned to the U.S to live in yet another communal society, and then had a second child before going and getting divorced. None of this was in my father's game plan for me.
So some compassion for my dad is overdue. I have some sense of how my father struggled to come to terms with my choices while loving me the best he could. Bless him, I did not make it easy. In my mind’s eye I have a sense of déjà vu, albeit with a role reversal.
So, when I take the opportunity to compare just how jerked around my dad must have felt when I was thirty-five, I get that I have no real right to complain.
But I will complain nonetheless and seek any sympathy I can solicit. It’s my story; I’m sticking to it, and I promise to go on loving my son as best I can, God help me.