Five Days with My Maxi Me

My son Finn hasn’t been mini-er than me since he was about ten, and now he stands more than a foot over me. Not relevant, really, because in some ways he really is my mini me. For this post I’m calling him my maxi me, though. You’ll see why.

We just spent five days together in his beach condo on South Padre Island, Texas, just the two of us, with no agenda, no interruptions, pure relaxation. A few maxi-me moments though, for sure.

One night, the AirBnB TV screen was telling me that the Grammys were coming on in five minutes, so I pressed a few buttons and, voilà, we were suddenly watching a country music guy bow to a self-conscious but proud Tracy Chapman. I mom-splained a few things about that scene to Finn, and he son-splained Miley Cyrus (wasn’t she a child really recently?). We watched Taylor Swift nail being Taylor Swift. We talked about Billie Eilish’s vocal style and debated if other artists imitate her. And, when Finn stepped out to enjoy the hot tub while no one was in it, I texted him a photo of Lenny Kravitz’s outfit and we both chuckled. “Is that shirt painted on or is it see-through?” Finn texted back.

After I’d gone to bed, I heard a strident knocking on my bedroom door. “Mom! Joni Mitchell’s on stage and Lucius is with her!” I slap on my leg brace in a hurry and hobble out in my t-shirt and stand there in front of the TV with him, rapt. After about 30 seconds, tears are running down my face.

I’d had to fill him in about Joni Mitchell earlier, but now we were sharing a memory: when he was in high school, he and I had sung together, side by side in my car, to every song on Lucius’ Wildewoman album over and over, and then we saw them together in D.C.. at the tiny 9:30 Club. At the Grammys, Lucius sang a quiet backup to an elderly Joni, but they were there on the stage with her, bridging generations in a song about the strange expanse of time.

Finn and I spent 17 years together, and here we are again, sharing moments of vulnerability and compassion.

He waited on me while I painstakingly hobbled down the sidewalk to happy hour, with my leg locked straight and my silly cane in tow. I listened to him tell me all about the Mexican wrestling night he went to, and we compared it to pro wrestling in the U.S. and Finn’s latest passion, Sumo wrestling. (I know quite a lot more about Sumo now than I ever have.). Three styles of entertainment and sport, three very different cultures.

He patiently tried to help me with the ukulele, explaining that counting time is the #1 crucial thing you can do when learning a new song. And somehow I can’t do it once it gets slightly complicated. He persisted throughout my amazing ineptitude — at something so basic in a skill he is talented at. The thing is, he’s always optimistic he can figure out how I’m thinking so he can explain it for me better.

What I’m seeing is that we have in common being people pleasers, in a considerate way, really, but when we’re together it’s a comedy of us stumbling over each other trying to make sure the other one’s happy.

Verbatim, here a scene in the darkening condo:

Me: Which light should we turn on?
Finn: I’m fine with either one.
I thought you didn’t like the dining room light.
No, that’s okay if you want that one on.
I don’t want it on if you don’t want it on.

And the condo just gets darker!

Out at a beach bar, it took us five minutes to pick which table to sit at so the other person gets the better ocean view.

Back in the condo, we played that epic board game based on the TV show, Firefly, and, instead of really competing, we cheered each other on. Heck, when one of us realized we’d mistaken the rules in our favor, we debated about backtracking to square up the situation. Each time, the person who made the mistake insisted on righting the wrong, while the other said to forget about it.

We talked about the past, how we spent Finn’s whole childhood under the pressure of academic expectations, up before dawn every day to drive to private school, busy with piano recitals and extraordinary amounts of homework and standardized testing, having totally succumbed to the idea that academic achievement is so important it’s worth dedicating a childhood to.

And now we’re both learning how to judge what it is we each want to do instead of what we have to do.

It’s a wild thing, to be with someone so like you in some ways invisible to other people and yet this person is clearly separate and different from me, even an improved version, if you will. A young man with skills and interests and compassion and kindness that all have surpassed mine. He’s my maxi me all over.

14 thoughts to “Five Days with My Maxi Me”

  1. This is so beautiful. I have a maxi-me too, as you know. I love that he woke you up for Joni/Lucius.

  2. This really is beautiful. It made me think of my own amazing kids. It feels so good when you realize that they really did come out well, in spite of mutiple errors (in my case, not saying in yours!)

  3. How beautiful! I’m envious! I’ve always said being a Mom is the best job in the world, and I will always feel that way. But I don’t have that 24/7 time with my kids much anymore, and I feel the loss since I often don’t know what is going on with them, who their friends are, etc. It’s some of my own fault, since I don’t like to interrupt and presume they have time for me (“they’ll call when they can/if they need to”) – my version of you accommodating Finn! I tell myself I did my job – they’re healthy productive successful adults, with friends and lives and wonderful partners. But I miss those days of practically knowing what they’re going to ask, and perhaps having all the answers.

    1. Well said, and man do I agree. Raising small ones is hard, but at least it was direct. Carry on with the best job in the world, season 2, I guess!

  4. Love the post. What were the cocktails? “how to judge what it is we each want to do instead of what we have to do” – don’t understand

    1. The cocktails were pre-mixed stuff, because there’s so much demand on these island bars that the “bartenders” don’t know how to mix cocktails. The was disappointing. By that tricky quote, I meant that if you’ve been doing what you need to do for years and years, you’ve been deciding what to do next according to what needs doing next. When you no longer have that factor and you can do what you want to do, that can be hard to figure out.

  5. What a wonderful connection you have. It’s a rare and beautiful thing and I’m so glad you had this special time together. Some lovely memories to take back on the road with you.