The boy with the bugle

When I was 18, I had the eponymous role in my high school’s spring musical, Mame.  It was, without a doubt, one of the ultimate parts of a lifetime — and I cherish those times and those memories.  But, as a high school senior, I could hardly appreciate the intricacies of the parent/child relationship between Mame and Patrick.

Had I known that another 18 years later I would have the dream role of a lifetime, I would have laughed — who thinks that far ahead?  That role, of course, is Mom.

And now, 18 years after THAT ‘production’ premiered, I am sending my best beau off on his own adventure… to college.

One of the things I’ve always admired about Mame is that she is unafraid to just ‘wing it.’  Anytime, anywhere.  She trusted that it all would work out… until she was confronted with the reality that Children Grow Up and Take the Reins — then it’s really and truly out of your control.

And that’s where I find myself today.  My little love is taking the reins, and making his own life — and I won’t be a part of his everyday life anymore.  No wonder I couldn’t even grasp that idea when I was onstage singing my heart out… I can barely get my head around it now.

But those lyrics… oh my, I have found myself thinking of them on and off throughout the 18 years since my son was born.  And now I understand — oh, how I understand! — their true meaning.

Although the song seems — at first listen — a song of regrets, it’s really just about a mother-figure trying to learn to let go: full of questions as to whether or not she did the right things at the right times (and how screwed up will he be because of what I did/did not do?).  And if I had the chance to do it all again, would I do anything differently… or would I do the same again, knowing what I know now, and how he turns out?

I freely admit I’ve winged it as Mom most of Z’s life.  Of course I’ve read books and articles, asked for friends’ advice, and relied on my own instincts… and he’s turned out pretty well so far.  But I know nothing stays the same, nothing is forever, and if you trust your heart and your gut, you’ll make the right choices along the way.

So, Mame darling: don’t worry.  You did great.  It all turns out ok in the end.

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If He Walked Into My Life

Where’s that boy with the bugle?
My little love, who was always my big romance…

Did he need a stronger hand?
Did he need a lighter touch?
Was I soft or was I tough?
Did I give enough?
Did I give too much?

At the moment when he needed me,
Did I ever turn away?
Would I be there when he called,
If he walked into my life today?

And there must have been a million things,
That my heart forgot to say.
Would I think of one or two,
If he walked into my life today?

Should I blame the times I pampered him,
Or blame the times I bossed him?
What a shame
I never really found the boy,
Before I lost him.

Were the years a little fast?
Was his world a little free?
Was there too much of a crowd
All too lush and loud — and not enough of me?

Though I’ll ask myself my whole life long,
What went wrong along the way?
Would I make the same mistakes
If he walked into my life today?

If that boy with the bugle, walked into my life today.

~ Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman for the musical, “Mame”