Saturday, 28 September 2013

Imaginary Sons

I think somebody mentioned in the ever-lengthening series of comments in reply to "Do Mothers Have It All?" that the married childless can open their house to friends, or some such. That is quite true, if both married people are on board with this. Some married people think of their home as a fort, in which to barracade themselves with their spouse/hostage, who is made to watch really boring television from dinner to bed-time.

Fortunately B.A. and I agreed that--at least until we had children--part of our vocation as married people would be helping Single people. This means that B.A. is on board when he comes home to find slender young men drifting through his hallway, eating muffins prepared by his wife, who is cooking zealously in the kitchen while practicing Polish verbs. (The Single people we know tend to be Catholic, and Catholics in Edinburgh, particularly the ones having temporary housing crises, tend to be Poles.)

When I was a child, I thought it would be rather fun to be "Mrs Bhaer" aka Jo March from Little Women except that "Jo's boys" were nothing like the human piglets I knew. However, now I am grown up, and so are the temporary homeless Singles eating muffins, so it is indeed a bit like Jo's Boys minus the fulsome gratitude and German accent--except when B.A. imitates Adolf Hitler singing "Hooro My Nut Brown Maiden."

But when I was a child, I was used to there being a lot of people in the house, particularly younger people I was expected to keep an eye on, help with their shoes, etc., so it feels a bit odd to be alone in the Historical House with just one other person most of the time. So that is another reason to be happy when Singles and their suitcases land at my doorstep.

Today we get two Singles for the weekend, so I will soon break off and rush about making up beds and baking cookies for two imaginary sons, aged 25. In my set, we all act like we are the same age--an ever-youthful/sophisticated 33--so it is actually hard to imagine my imaginary sons as sons, especially when they are actually here. I always say "Oooh! It will be like having a son back from college," and then the imaginary son arrives and I am forced to reflect that even if I had had a baby at 16, there is no way he could have looked like that.

(Seraphic mulls various dimly remembered innocent high school boys with exotic names. "Miroslav...? No. Janek....? No. Tomislav....? No.")

I would love to put up photos of today's imaginary sons, but I already put up one of one of them as a Swashbuckling Protector, and none of you dashed north or across the sea to snaffle him, so he's going into the seminary. The other one has threatened to sue.


Heather in Toronto said...

My best friend and I are doing the Spiritual Motherhood thing via running the RCIA program for our parish. (Started it up last year and had two people. This year we have somewhere around a dozen. Hooray!)

P.S. When I was about 10 year old, my favourite book in the whole world was Little Men. I totally thought it would be awesome to be Jo Bhaer too.

Stellamaris said...

Seraphic, this went up on First Things yesterday:

So it's too funny that you're blogging about such a related topic today! Had you seen it?

Roseograce said...

I am jealous of everyone in Edinburgh who gets to meet you!

The Little Women/Little Men/Jo's Boys series are some of my favorite reads - perhaps once every year or so, I spend a couple of weeks re-reading them. And the older I grow, the more I learn from Louisa May Alcott. There are some great lessons in those books about how to be a young lady and a good woman - about how to deal with things that all young ladies and women deal with, like courtship and family and boys and men and tough times. I always learn something new. And Jo is one of my heroes.

Seraphic said...

I love them all, but as usual I have the caveat that 19th century fiction is Not Real Life.

In real life, LMA was utterly emotionally dependent on her father, and died within days of him. Actually, except for LMA having been a nurse in the Civil War, not a teenage girl at home, there is a lot about those family dynamics that were true, albeit heavily romanticized and made palatable for LMA's largely Christian readership. (The Alcotts were, among other things, Unitarians.)

Amusingly for my current studies, Laurie was supposedly based on some Polish aristocrat LMA encountered on her travels. And although we are many of us traumatized by the fact LMA wouldn't let Jo have Laurie, research into LMA's life does indeed suggest that Professor Bhaer was her fantasy man---way older, German, a philosopher... LMA, who wanted Jo to stay SIngle, but her readers wouldn't allow it, said she had come up with a "funny" suitor for Jo. But I think she came up with someone she might have liked!