Why "The Prodigal Son's Mother" ?

   Many of you are familiar with the parable in the Bible about the prodigal son, right?  A man has two sons.  One is dutiful and hard working and a model citizen, blah,blah,blah.  The other son is rebellious and hard partying.  The rebellious son demands his inheritance from his father, who concedes.   The son goes off into the world, living like a rock star.  The drinks are flowing, the women are loose, by all accounts, it's a wild time for the son.  Until the money runs out.  Then he's in trouble.  Eventually, he finds himself working for a pig farmer until he gets caught eating some of the slop he's supposed to be feeding the pigs.  The now humbled son comes crawling back to his father, who throws a huge welcome home party for his son.  The "good brother,"  is all resentful and such.  

     This story has everything--drama, sex, drugs, family dynamics, a happy ending...  Wait!  There's something missing.  Where is the prodigal son's mother when all this is going down?!  Her story doesn't make for a simple parable.  She probably didn't want to give him his inheritance.  She probably yelled a lot because of her wild son's inappropriate behavior.  When he went off into the world, I can imagine that she  spent lots of energy on finding out where he was and who he was with and worrying endlessly.  She also likely spent a whole bunch of time convincing her other son that he was beloved, that he shouldn't resent his brother, that family is a one-for-all-and-all-for-one kind of deal.  I'm certain there was more than one very heated discussion with her husband, followed by weepy visits to her girlfiriends.  And I bet that her initial response when he finally came home was one of anger, not of delight--despite the relief she felt knowing he was alive and safe.

     I know those kids.  I've been both of those kids--the model student AND the rebellious risk-taker.  Let's just say I know a bit about pushing limits. My mother definitely had her hands full.   I'm sure she  was absolutely DELIGHTED when I dropped out of college to follow the Grateful Dead, for example.

     Overall, I don't regret my youthful indiscretions.  I had some really wonderful adventures as a young woman.  I saw a lot of the country.  I met a bunch of interesting people, several of whom are still my friends today.  I got to test market giant bubble wands.  I saw all of the cool bands.

     There are some spectacularly notable exceptions, though.  There are some events that will haunt me for the rest of my days.   I found myself in some pretty dangerous situations that I am lucky to have survived.  I made some choices that I seriously regret.  I did too many things I am not proud of.  I hurt some people I cared about deeply.  I got my heart broken.

     Now I am the mother of three children, two of whom are in their twenties.  They are smart and kind and funny and talented.  If you were to ask them, they'd tell you which of the story's characters they most relate to.  My oldest (Thing 1) is very much like the prodigal son's brother.  My middle child (Thing 2) would be the first to tell you that he's more than a little bit like the prodigal.  The youngest (The Evil Genius) would ask me if there is a benevolent king that rules his people with an iron hand in the story--that is who he'd relate to.  He is too young to decide what kind of son he is yet, really.  I'm hoping for the best, but know I love him regardless of who he becomes.

     I can tell you without a doubt that being THAT kid is way, way, way easier than being THAT kid's mother.  Here, I will share some of my adventures in being the prodigal's mama, being the other siblings' mama, and being the prodigal's father's wife.  I may even tell ancient tales of being the prodigal and being the prodigal's brother (well, sister).  At the very least, you are likely to be amused.


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