A moral tale of two sons.
Two lost boys.
The one who stayed.
The one who strayed.
The "good" son who stayed near and dear, living a life of selflessness and perfect care. Dutiful, responsible and true.
The "bad" son, the prodigal, strayed far from home and wasted his youth and his future in folly. Irresponsible, the ne'er do well, the pariah, lost to his family forever.
The "bad" son, returns home to a heroes welcome. The "good" son feels betrayed. The reunion is a disaster.
Except, this is not where the story ends. It is merely, the last sentence on the page. The storyteller ran out of ink on purpose.
For a very long time, I too, refused to turn the page. Talked myself into cheering for the faithful son, and defining the wayfarer as a cheat.
Ha, I thought. So you can go out in the world and mess up and do anything you want and turn your back on your family, and then when your pockets are empty, your luck has run out, you can run home to Mommy and Daddy and say "Sorry About That" and all will be forgiven.
Not fair. Not fair at all. I was the dutiful daughter in this story. I didn't blame the "good son" for yelling out loud, Hey What About Me?
I mean, really. REALLY. Somebody wake these parents UP. You have two sons and one is a real slacker. The other is right here, right under your nose, doing the right thing at the right time for all the right reasons. So you throw a BIG PARTY for which one? Are you kidding me?
Then I became a parent. Of two sons.
And I decided it was time to finish the story. To turn the page. To see if I had missed something in translation. Skipped a paragraph. Read only the Cliff's Notes version.
I am a parent. Of two sons. I love them both. I always will. No matter where they are or what they do.
I have that.
An equal share for equals.
Even though I said things like, "just because I said so", when they were growing up. Shored up the boundaries will bricks and mortar, monitored their language, scared their friends, taught them to cook, to make their beds and fold the laundry. Forced them to eat their peas and finish their homework. I followed the Parent Manual and treated them exactly the same.
I was fair to a fault.
They should have turned out like twins. Maybe if I had dressed them alike? In cute overalls and matching plaid shirts.
That, even to me as I write it, is a VERY creepy idea.
Two sons=two people.
Two completely separate and unique people with ideas, dreams and ambitions of their own.
I stood with them, hand in hand, on the edge of the nest, and I will admit it. I pushed them out. Well, actually one of them was already out on the end of the limb hanging upside down without a parachute. The other one, I had to nudge a little bit with one toe, even though he was wearing a safety harness, a helmet and safety goggles.
To say that they flew in opposite directions is woefully inaccurate. One flew in swoops and dives while wing walking his way from one risk taking adventure to the other.
The other flew in a perfectly straight line, atlas in hand, itinerary crafted with military precision in ABC order.
You would think that they had nothing in common. Separated at birth. One raised by a pack of wolves and the other in a well ventilated bubble.
Well, not quite.
That story I mentioned. The one about the sons.
I turned the page.
This is a story about brothers.
I see my two boys as sons.
They see each other as brothers.
Laughing and rolling on the couch, eating jerky and providing their own running commentary on stupid movies.
The straight arrow, cradling the brother with the broken arm dangling at his side, not just with his arms but with his heart as well.
The renegade , playing Best Man to a full house, reciting a speech, voice breaking. Pulling at his collar, the comedian of the family now desperately solemn, as he bears witness to his love for his brother.
The parable, as it seems to me. is not a story of two sons. It is a story about two brothers finding their way home.
To each other.
The parent in the story does what parents do. Welcome their sons home with open arms and celebration. I love you forever is all we need to say, and all we will ever do.
The brothers in this story are lost. No, not lost, stuck.
The brother who strayed, needs a bit of straightening up.
The brother who stayed, needs a bit of loosening up.
What they both need.
Is one another.
And the quality of mercy.
Because, as their mother, I know that they are both made of the same stock. Loving hearts, forgiving hands, and the ability to make each other laugh until they cry.
Reunions are always messy affairs.
Close up or across the miles...
Finding their way home to each other starts with three words.
I love you.
I'm returning the matching Spider Man XXL pajamas tomorrow.