David Smith believed that "the conflict for realization is what makes art."
I wonder if that is what makes humans too.
In any case, it is a useful paradigm for thinking about mothering. Worthwhile questions for a mother might be, “What do I fear will be realized here?” and “What do I hope will be realized here?”
Right now I feel like I am in a battle with Oldest’s recent tendency to fall into depression.
On my side: my self as mother is influenced by my self as child. I had a very depressed father. I could not rescue him though I tried. It may not be true but I believe that, by way of vodka, his depression killed him. I could not save him though I tried.
On Oldest’s side: he has just realized that the universe is exceedingly large and he is minutely, possibly meaninglessly, small.
Last night, when I came home from my weekend away, he saw me and stood up. I went to him and put my arms out. His tall, thin frame stooped sadly toward me. We both wished at that moment, I think, that we could somehow travel back to the time when I could hold him without thinking, balance him easily on one hip, the weight of him interfering not at all with some other necessary task. I reached up to hold as much of him as I could which was really not enough.
We talked about the return, over the weekend, of his depression. “Sometimes I just feel like giving up,” he said.
What do I fear will be realized here? I fear he will become my father. That he will fall, and fall, and fall. This fear does neither of us any good. It makes me intolerant, impatient, annoyed.
What do I hope will be realized here? I hope that he won’t be sunk by the weight of his woundedness. That he will begin, like an artist, to both find and create meaning.
We lay side by side on his bed. My eyes were attracted to something new on his wall. Next to a post-it with homework assignments, he has taped two small drawings, exended doodles, to the blank whiteness. A ghostly figure spans the space between the drawings. He is not at all unlike the figure in The Scream. I find myself obscurely pleased at this discovery.