"Just the two of us
We can make it if we try...
Just the two of us
Building castles in the sky
Just the two of us
You and I..."
You may think this is a love song. You are right. It is a love song for my husband and his son...and by the grace of God, our son.
Jeff is a gentle, kind man who, with is former wife, Beth, has raised up a gentle, kind, smart, funny, thoughtful, loving, socially responsible son. Jeremy turned twenty-one on Monday. He is now a wonderful man. I have been so blessed by his presence in my life.
For a number of years, Jeff and Jeremy were "Just the Two of Us" (I love this version with Will Smith and his son...I REALLY hope you will watch it as it is part and parcel to this piece!). They shared a home, a car, household chores and time. The peace and mutual respect they held for each other was palpable. Their home was modest and definitely a guy-inhabited space, but visiting them was almost oasis-like in the absence of tension or selfishness. Each bent over backwards to anticipate the needs of the other.
As a friend, I always felt blessed to be invited for a game of Scrabble or dominoes, or to join them and other friends for a rousing gathering at Starbucks or a local performance by one of our children. Theirs was a world that was foreign to me. My world was so full of girls, women, and "the feminine." And I liked it that way. Or at least I thought I liked it that way, somewhat to the exclusion of all masculine models of behavior. I soon discovered that I still had some serious learning to do about the wholeness of each man, woman and child... the fully balanced qualities of the masculine and feminine in individual completeness.
You see, I never thought I would be a good mom to a son. I didn't think I got boys. They were a mystery to me. I thought they moved largely, and boisterously, through space, and I always felt like curling up in the corner of any room I had to share with boys. As a girl I always had the sensation that they'd sucked all the air out of any space we had to share...classrooms, parties, work-spaces, relationships.
I was always so, well, almost desperately, grateful when each of my daughters happened to be girls. I felt like I understood girls. Wasn't I, one of five sisters? Girls made sense to me. They were soft and quiet...gentle and graceful. More thoughtful and intuitive. Right? As I said, I still had so much to learn.
When we were expecting Emma and Clara I had a dream, just before they were born, that they were boys. I woke up in a cold sweat. I knew I could do anything but twin boys and was extremely relieved when they were born later that day...and were girls.
It wasn’t that I didn’t like boys. Much to the contrary. It was just that, to me, they were just like a lush, vibrant foreign culture, whose language I didn’t speak. I loved listening to its loud musicality. Much like Italian. It was colorful and best experienced with food or in an open-air “performance”…plays, sporting events, opera in an amphitheater, speeches made from the back of a jeep (think General Patton)…but much too flavorful and spicy for my blood on a daily basis. Especially if I was going to be responsible for its cooking and seasoning. I had a simple palate. I always admired mothers of boys. They, somehow, seemed more serene to me. All that energy and they were still able to think…miraculous!
But back to this story. Long before my husband and I went from being friends, to life partners, I knew his son, Jeremy, as one of my daughter's good friends. He was funny and sweet. He was the kind of boy that girls love to have as a best friend. He was a good listener, thoughtful, and someone you could count on. In middle school, I can remember hearing my daughter laughing from her room...long after lights out...because she was talking to Jeremy on the phone.
Funny thing, his dad was like that too. We'd all been friends, fellow parents, and colleagues for years. It was easy to see what a gentleman he was in his relationships with men, and women, alike. I remember thinking, having known his dad...Jeremy's grandfather...that all three of them were truly lovely men who took after their divine Parent. They were attentive friends, good-humored colleagues, and thoughtful family members. I'd observed each of them in diverse settings, and always felt as if I was in the company of great kindness when they were around.
Jeremy's dad and I were married just before Jeremy's senior year of high school. And since his mom lived out of state, we were blessed to have Jeremy live with us. It was a wonderful year. We had a great flat in the city, we made soup, shared omelettes, played late night games of highly competitive Scrabble, and tried to figure out how to share one bathroom as a family of five. Jeremy was a great "big brother" to his new sisters. He drove them to school each morning and stayed unruffled when they were bouncing off the wall. They were, without question, "in the company of great kindness."
Then he graduated from high school, left for camp, spent his "gap year" establishing residency in California, and following a summer at camp, started college over two thousand miles away. He was gone from the day-to-day rhythm of my life, just as quickly as he had entered it. I missed him.
But last spring, Jeremy came home for a visit. It was wonderful. Even though his dad was working out of town, he still came home, to be with the girls, and with me. I was nervous and honored. Nervous that I probably still wasn't such a great mom for a boy, and honored that, even with his dad away, he would still come home to us...to his pre-teen sisters and me.
That week was amazing. Every moment he was here, was as if his dad...who I missed terribly...was home again. Jeremy anticipated the girls', and my, needs. Even before I could, "arrive" at the moment when I would have remembered that we actually had a need, he was "on it." The dishes were emptied from the dishwasher before I got up in the morning. The recycling was taken out. He was dressed, and ready to take the girls to school, before I'd even pulled a pair of sweatpants under my nightgown to warm up the car in the morning.
I had forgotten what it was like to have him home. He appreciated every little kindness. I discovered that the meals I prepared were "delicious," and he was still willing to play Scrabble with me, long after midnight.
When he left at the end of the week, I bawled. I have missed his company more than he knows.
When I mentioned to his dad that his visit had been one of the most wonderful weeks of the year, Jeff smiled and told me that Jeremy had actually decided to come for a visit, with the intent of anticipating how to make things easier for me...for all of us. I felt it. It meant the world to me.
He and his dad...and his grandpa....have all learned how to be whole, complete, perfectly balanced men from their Father-Mother, God. They have taught me so much about accepting this wholeness in everyone, as a divine gift. God has promised us that:
"Before they call, I will answer,
and while they are yet speaking, I will hear."
His Robertson "sons" have followed beautifully in their Father's footsteps. He has raised up gentle men, who are teaching me how to be a gentler woman.
I love, love, love all of our children...but it has been a divine surprise to discover the unbridled gift of having a son. I am so grateful that he has let me love him, and has been patient with me as I've learned to how to be part of his life.
Thank you sweet boy...I love you, you are wonderful in so many ways...
Kate Robertson, CS
Jeremy doing something he loves...slack-lining...and we love him.