The Son Also Rises look at him across the table, thinking, who is he? Who is this tall, intense, handsome, stiff, strange man sitting with me at La Provence, eating his asparagus quiche daintily as if it were made of flower pedals?

I’ve known him for more than 30 years – intimately – and I truly have not a clue who he is. It was so much easier, when he was my baby boy, and even when he was a burgeoning almost-teenager, still giving me hard hugs at night. He told me stories about his war games with his best friend back then, and his dreams of being an importer/exporter, even though he had no idea what that meant. He was chubby, with a wonderful chuckle and a dimple as wide as a dime. Continue reading

Pressing Matters

Pressing, iron, texting, mother, sonI call my son Sean on his cell phone, at work, 11 a.m.

I don’t usually call my boy during the day. After all, he works, in the big city, in a big high-financing job that I understand absolutely nothing about. I hear his explanations of investing, solar, banks, corporations, tax credit, energy, but to be perfectly honest, at banks and tax credits my brain gets fuzzy and my eyes roll back so I just nod my head and say “Ohhhh!” as if I’ve understood every fast-speaking, super-intelligent thing he’s said.

But today, I just want to hear his voice. I miss that, now that he’s not the little boy who absolutely and completely loves his mother, buying her flowers when he’s driven her close to distraction, and offering a huge smile and hug every night until he leaves for college.

My son is MINE until he meets his match, his sunshine, the chink to his armor, the woman he’s dreamed of before he ever met her — his wife.

Now he’s hers, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be, the way I want it to be.

Until I call him at 11 in the morning and he doesn’t answer his phone, and I think, “Sean doesn’t have time for me right now.”

mom, son,family,children, love

Before pressing matters.

The truth is, he doesn’t, not now that he’s married and the father of three little boys and commuting to the big city and worrying about bills and pre-schools and property taxes and how to celebrate each anniversary (at their third, he discovered the traditional gift is leather – and by god, he bought his love … a leather bracelet).  By the type of man he is, the husband he is, the father he is,  I know I did good. But I just want to hear Sean’s voice and let him be my little boy just for a minute.Please!

But five minutes after I call, I receive a text. Let me explain that I am at work myself, so I’m happy to see a text, since I really can’t take the time from work to talk then anyway – ah, the vagaries of motherhood.

But the text takes my breath away.

Here it is.


“In meetings all day. Can we talk tomorrow? Anything pressing?”


“Like an iron,” I text back angrily without thinking.

When, oh when, did I get to the point of being a person in my son’s life whom he has to find a schedule for, whom he can only talk to if it’s “pressing,” whom he…

“You’ve been married too long to dad,” he texts back.

I smile. My man is known in our family circle as a frequent (though not necessarily accomplished) person-who-puns.

I pause. Sean did text back soon after my missed call. He did make sure I was okay, then asked if we could talk later.

son, baby, family, love, mother

Sean with one of his pressing matters.

I text him a funny face  :+)  and let go of my loss.He’s still my son, but he’s not my little boy.  He still loves me, but he’s expanded his heart to love a wife, three children. He’s made a life, a family, and where do I fit in?

I’m his mom.


Illustration thanks to Pam Rubert,


Golden Gate Bridge, traveling, mother/sonThe city sparkles after a rain storm, so if you have a chance, drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, around noon, when a Pacific Ocean storm has just blown through the Gate, Marin County, and the mountains beyond with gale force winds and driving, ravenous rain.

By 9 a.m., after a noisy storm-riddled night, the air is clear and fresh; white and gray puffy clouds dot the sky.  Some thunder tries to roll over Mt. Tam and Mt. Diablo, but then it sighs slowly, giving in to springtime optimism.

Like me, flying out of the office at noon and racing over the Golden Gate Bridge to meet my 30-year-old son, once my ‘hard child,’ as hard as sleet on soft green grass.

I was the grass.grass, family, mother/son

Sometimes he mowed me down when he was a child and teenager, with his sharp edges and relentless questions. “Why can’t I play paint ball on a school day?” “Why do we have to stay home during school vacation?” “Why do I have to study when I get good grades anyway?” “Why do you always say NO?”

Soft grass was I back then, roughening to a weed-like texture with his bombardment of whys.

So why, now, am I soaring over the San Francisco Bay in anticipation of meeting that same son for lunch?

The day brightens with every mile I travel; the city looms ahead like a white Oz, all new and gleaming and magical. The streets stretch smoothly ahead of me, leading me down Lombard, up Van Ness, over Broadway, and then right on the Embarcadero.

My son calls three times, checking on my progress, assuring himself that I’m coming, that Marin County hasn’t gobbled me up in my activities of work and walking, writing and wearing out by mid-afternoon.

No, No, I insist through my handless cell phone speaker. “I’m on Front Street; I’m parking; I’m walking toward you…”


And my ‘hard’ child, the one who has loved me like an old man loves his 80-year-old wife, the son who charmed me with flowers when he was 10 while I was still gritting my teeth over his demands – that son now waits for me with a trimmed beard highlighting his welcoming smile, his dimple hidden by the thick brown hair, his lips touching my cheek lightly, softly, as he whispers,

“Hi Mom.”

Oz, beautiful city, San Francisco

Loud as Snow Hitting Bare Branch

As the snow fell like rain

soft and fast and serious

my family of four sat in front of the fire

warmed by the presence of each other.


Soft and fast and serious

our talk ran from weather to food to walks

warmed by the presence of each other

the sight outside was miraculous.


Our talk ran from weather to food to walks

and my grown-up son winked at me

the sight outside was miraculous

so he suggested a brisk walk in the woods.


And my grown-up son winked at me

as I pulled on heavy jeans and a warm coat

so he suggested a brisk walk in the woods

just mom and son braving the storm.


As I pulled on heavy jeans and a warm coat

I felt the frosty air and fierce snow billow round

just the mom and son braving the storm

walking into woods that quietly accepted this gift.


I felt the frosty air and fierce snow billow round

as our talk swirled round us likewise

walking into woods that quietly accepted this gift

of silence loud as snow hitting bare branch.


As our talk swirled round us likewise

my son told me his thoughts and dreams

of silence loud as snow hitting bare branch

of love and fears and theology.


My son told me his thoughts and dreams

as we crunched through tender white ground

of love and fears and theology

of a young man searching for answers to life.


As we crunched through the tender white ground

soft and fast and furious

a young man searching for answers to life

warmed by the presence of each other.