I am the mother of an only son, an amazingly kind and gentle man who is so strong that he takes away my breath, often, regularly, spectacularly. I am the older sister of two little brothers, and the aunt of three nephews. I am the great-aunt of the world's cutest almost-one-year-old little boy, and I am -- as you may have heard -- a grandmother to my grandson. I held him a few minutes after his birth, looked into his eyes, said and meant "Namaste," and have been madly in love, ever since.
It's a sign of the Goddess' grand sense of humor that she's sent so many little boys into the life of this militant feminist, this Dianic witch, this old woman who would still love, at some point, to nurture a girl-child of my line. Maybe the joke's on the young men.
Today, I was considering the fact that there can be something so incredibly, burningly pure about a little boy's need for certain things. (It may be so for little girls, as well, I just wouldn't know.) Even when they're not the objects that I'd prefer to provide, I've coughed up the cash for them, simply because it was obvious to me that the little boy in question truly needed the object, and by "needed" I mean, "had to have in order to actualize," had to have in order for the universe not to veer off just that much wrong.
When Son was all gangly bones and adolescent longings and full of the need to move on, we did the campus tours, and he set foot on the Earth at Princeton, and he looked at me (a background of wisteria by the gate, as I remember it), and he told me that he needed to go there. I didn't like it. They had all-male eating clubs at the time. From the time that he'd been in my womb, I'd imagined sending him to St. John's in Annapolis for the education that I'd wanted, but couldn't have. But what I liked and wanted and what that nascent young man needed were two different things. Son went to Princeton.
At one point in his childhood, Son wanted a kit that took fingerprints -- a way to catch other people's secrets -- more than he wanted anything. I don't mean that he "wanted" it, I mean that, in order to be and become who he had to be, Son needed it. I was all the way broke at the time. I don't remember what bill I paid late, but I did get him the fingerprint kit with the magnifying glass, and the dusting powder, and the secret chart that explained everything.
G/Son and I have lately been enjoying the whole Redwall series, and G/Son has taken wholeheartedly, in the way that only little boys can take wholeheartedly, to the story of Matthias, the warrior who defends Redwall Abbey against all comers. I introduced him to the series, feeling that a steady diet of Pixar and Batman were somehow not meeting his deeper need for myth and for a hero with whom to identify. For a few weeks now, G/Son has been telling me, in that way that little boys have of telling you, and telling you that this REALLY matters, that he needed a sword and a shield, just like Martin and Matthias, the warriors. I don't like war, I don't like the notion of chopping up other beings with swords, I don't like the societal story that men get their value based upon whom they can kill. I don't know if this deep need for a weapon in all the little boys that I've known is genetic, or cultural, or some interesting brew of both.
But I know true need when I see it.
And I think that it just kills your own soul to see need that raw and to ignore it. I do.
Today, Son and I took G/Son to the Maryland Renaissance Festival and we ate spiced pecans and we drank meade and we listened to fiddles and bagpipes and we bought a wooden sword with a blue handle and a wooden shield with a blue dragon and we got a blue battle axe dripping blood painted on G/Son's forearm and we had, all in all, a perfect Autumn day.
Was I right? Was I wrong? Am I fostering exactly the wrong thing in the next generation? Am I simply giving way to a cultural/biological imperative? I don't know.
I only know that need that certain and that pure should be met.
That the world is better when such needs are filled and filled by one who loves the person who burns inside the flame of that need. When I was leaving this afternoon, Son told G/Son to "say 'thank you' to Nonna for everything," even though G/Son already had. G/Son looked with the eyes of his old soul deep into my old eyes and said:
"Thank you for getting me my sword and my shield."
I said, "You're welcome. I could tell that you needed them."
Then I went to my car and broke down in tears. Sometimes, my life is too wonderful for me to even bear.
I hope that Gus and our other elders can give us advice about little boys. How do we raise them in the 21st Century? What should their Nonnas be telling them? I want a better way to sister, to aunt, to mother, to grandmother our little boys. I just don't know what it is. And I'm not sure it's the sun dance that Gus proposes, but I'm willing to listen to all sorts of advice on this. I'm the one person who needs to know: the person placed in the position of sister, aunt, etc. But I don't know.
I only love and hope and try to provide what's needed. Goddess willing, that's enough.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."