Is it only me, or do all mothers look at their adult sons and daughters and say to themselves, "How could that have come out of me?"
For me, there is the physical aspect of the miracle. How could teenie me have produced this man who could fling me over his shoulders? And how could this beautiful vivacious woman who does not look anything like me be my daughter?
I suppose the answers to those questions can be found in the fact that my children were not immaculately conceived. Thus, they inherited some of their father's genes. Jennifer not only has her father's coloring — blue eyes, blonde hair, fair complexion — but his verve for living as well.
She is a dynamo — constantly in action. Last year, in addition to holding down a job, she earned a master's degree in psychology, and played on two teams in an adult softball league. As always, her first priority was taking care of her two teenage children.
Jennifer is the kind of friend we all would like to have.
When one of her friends from high school days lost her husband, a police officer, and was left alone to raise their three daughters, Jennifer came to her side not only in the darkest days of her numbing grief but was also when other people failed to keep to their promises: I'll call you to see how you are doing. We can have lunch when the kids are in school.
When the man who ran the dry-cleaning store Jennifer patronized died suddenly shortly before Christmas, he was, as the obits say, "survived" by a wife and two children. Jennifer reached out to the widow and found out the family was experiencing financial hardships. So, Jennifer organized a toy drive to benefit the two fatherless children. I was staying with Jennifer in her home on Long Island and saw the doll carriage, the baby doll, the bicycle and helmet she contributed.
In October 2012, Super Storm Sandy slammed into the Rockaways in Queens, N.Y, and Jennifer rallied friends and together they helped in the cleanup effort.
They went to a church in the area and asked where they could be of most help. The first place they were sent was the home of an elderly widow.
"We shoveled sand from her basement. She called us her angels," Jennifer said when telling me of her experience as a volunteer. "It is unbelievable. The sand was piled up like snow in the streets."
When Jennifer calls me, I invariably feel out of breath when I hang up. No, I don't talk too much, I'm just suffering vicarious exhaustion.
As for my son, Christopher, he has brown hair and brown eyes like me. Well, my hair used to be brown. Now it is more, shall we say, pepper and salt.
He is soft-spoken, but when something tickles his funny bone, he bursts into raucous laughter. When my husband, Bill, and I had visited Christopher in his home in Virginia during the days he was single, we went to a movie together one night. "Liar, Liar," with Jim Carrey was playing. I am not a fan of Carrey's but just sitting between Christopher and Bill as they howled at Carrey's antics set me to giggling.
Christopher has the same habit as Bill had when working on a project that calls for physical labor. For instance, Christopher rolled his tongue over his lips as he hammered nails into a chest of drawers he was making, just as his father had done when he struggled to put in the storm windows in our home in New York.
Christopher is also a great father like his Dad. He carts his children everywhere they need or want to be, without complaining, is patient when they are out of sorts and calms them when they are fearful for real or imagined reasons.
I guess I am like all mothers in that I am proud of my children. I also realize that since they are mere mortals, they have faults; I take responsibility for passing on imperfections to them. Christopher is a procrastinator like me, Jennifer is too sensitive like me.
Yes, I guess I am giving in to that old bromide that the mother is always at fault.
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