Smurfs, Sons, and Second Half of Life
I wrote this article 3 years ago on another blog of mine, but I still muse about the Smurfs and my inept parenting in the 1980′s…which in spite of, my two sons are awesome
Smurfs...those little elf-looking blue men with white caps and their blue wives named Smurfettes were invented in the late 1950′s, but they were born into American culture in 1981, the year that my first child was born. Those little blue people became an iconic symbol of the 1980′s and a thorn in my flesh.
I wanted to be a good Mom and I was told by my religious culture at the time that Smurfs were dangerous for children…they had a MAGIC flute, they lived in a commune of mushrooms that “symbolized” getting high and they had a sorcerer/sage for their lead character. So, of course, as a good mother, I did not let my sons watch the Smurfs. To this day, I still often hear my sons tell their friends…”My Mom didn’t let me watch the Smurfs” and everyone looks pitifully at me like either I was a really right-wing Rush Limbaugh soccer Mom or like I was a controlling wacked-out psycho Mom.
So, as I stand before the universe and before my sons…I was wrong. I should have let you watch the Smurfs at home instead of having to sneak off to watch them at your preschool friends’ homes. You are the greatest guys in spite of your Mom’s quirky ways of parenting.
The second half of life changes a person significantly. Most of us either become more mellow or more bitter. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan monk and the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, NM, has a great book, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. He says that in the first half of life, we are naturally and rightly preoccupied with establishing our identity-climbing, achieving, and performing. We eventually need to see ourselves in a different and more life-giving way. Rohr goes onto to say that the first half of life religion is almost always about various types of purity codes or “thou shalt nots” to keep us clear, clean, and together like good Boy and Girl Scouts. We are building a strong container in the first half of life to hold our deepest and fullest life.
One of my dear friends once said that she had changed her theological, cultural, and political views so radically over her life, that she was afraid to say anything in too dogmatic of language anymore and I know what she means. Life changes us. We start out with idealistic expectations of life, that one plus one always makes two, and discover through living, that things don’t always turn out like we expected…sometimes one plus one makes one or three or five. Sometimes life is difficult and we discover that the answers to life are not always black and white, that there are some gray areas where answers don’t come easy. Sometimes life is way better than we ever dreamed and we rejoice in those blessings and we dance and sing and jump for joy at those good times. We come to realize that we need the good times and the times of bewilderment, wilderness, and suffering to make us into people with deep soul.
Sometimes we just need some blue people to come along and play their magic flute, embrace us in their commune of love, and speak their special language to us. It’s too bad that I did not know in the first half of life what I have learned from the ups and downs of living. I am much more mellow and a free spirit in the second half of life…hopefully I won’t get “too out there” for my sons in their first half of life!
Oh and by the way, my beloved awesome sons…when you are home next…let’s download all the episodes of The Smurfs and sit down with some grown up drinks and watch them together…yes…we have come a long way baby!