as every mother knows, there are stages and phases not only in the life of a child, but also in your relationship with that child, and in that child's relationship with you. some of these phases and stages are greeted with public acclaim and often universal acknowledgement - the first tooth, the first day of school, graduation. these are the ones we talk about and the ones for which there are greeting cards.
and then there are those turning points unnoticed or unacknowledged, turning points too finely calibrated to measure in simple words. i suspect that these are the most profound.
today my mother and i were talking about christmas presents. what would you like for christmas, she asked, and even i could hardly believe the words i heard coming out of my mouth.
you don't have to get me much this year, i said.
i wasn't going to get you much, my mother replied. i was going to give you money.
give it to the kids, i said.
what? she said. two hundred miles away i heard her jaw drop to the floor.
i don't really need anything, i said. you can give the money to the kids... they need it more than i do.
you really don't want anything?
a tree ornament, i said. a book, maybe, you know i like to read. a sweater if you're going to make it.
oh no, i wouldn't make it, my mother answered, it having escaped her notice that the only child she's never made a sweater for is the one who wears them all the time.
then just get me something small, i said, and spend whatever you would on me on the kids.
wow, said my mother.
wow, i said to myself.
and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.