Sections

Steph gets intimate (or at least she tries to).

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How can intimacy be achieved?

I’m dying to come up with some sort of solution.

Forging intimate relationships is tough. It’s hard to pull them off for yourself, let alone figure how to teach others to do it. Unfortunately, it’s what’s required as a parent and, moreover, as a person living on this great Earth. We all need to learn and share constantly our strategies on how to be closer — physically and emotionally.

I mull it and mull it. I read almost exclusively about people and their relationships. I talk to as many people as I can — including perfect strangers — about the most personal details of their relationships. Friends will sit down across from me and give me the low-down on their marriage, their divorce, their dating lives, not to get answers (because they know I don’t have any) but just because they know I am almost constantly weighing and balancing how we can get closer to one another as a species. I want to understand what goes “wrong” in my own relationships and others’, and what “right” even feels like.

My poor kids. Really, a mom who thinks it’s possible, really possible, to “figure out” relationships? Unlike others, who aren’t related to me, they can’t skedaddle when my demands for intimacy grow too great, when I wonder aloud why they aren’t talking to me all the time about their greatest secrets and dreams.

The thing is, even with all this thought, am I even ready for the moments when my kids do decide to share? The time is nigh’, and what do I do? Do I just nod and listen? Do I offer specific advice? Do I, maybe, just ask some general questions and see what comes up?

The thing is, we don’t usually know ourselves very well, not nearly well enough to ask ourselves the tough questions like, “What do I really want? How do I feel about another person? How do they feel about me?”

We are often way too busy to get intimate even with ourselves, let alone others. Where would there be time in between working or school, between all those seasons of shows to catch up on, between social media postings?

I am tongue-tied, often, around my kids. I want to kick them off their devices, but I know my conversation topics tend toward some heavy stuff, and sometimes I don’t know what to talk about that isn’t the “Share your feelings! Let it all out” crap that will make them run screaming.

But we’re getting there. They are adolescents forging forward with creating intimate relationships of their own — friends or something more — and I hope my reputation for talking incessantly about the subject might keep me in good stead. They might think I have a few thoughts to share, or even — hope against hope — that I might be a caring, non-judgmental, sympathetic ear.

After all, what is there to say? What have I learned from the great literature of James Baldwin or W. Somerset Maugham? What have Shakespeare or Graham Greene taught me? Um, that intimacy is confusing? That there’s no handbook or how-to manuals? That it feels more than slightly out of our control? That pain is inevitable but that the pleasure of it, the pleasure of intimacy is — so very, very pleasurable.

What I’ve learned firsthand and through the very best books and movies and art and dance, is that the pain of intimacy will be overshadowed — if only for brief magical moments — by incredible pleasure. And that those moments are worth fighting for, figuring for.

They are better than any show.

Read Fearless Parenting every other Thursday on BrooklynPaper.com.
Updated 11:13 am, October 28, 2016
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Reasonable discourse

John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Pardon my saying this, but there are certain individuals that believe this should be called "Fearful Parenting" instead. Among those people are your own John Wasserman, for instance.
John Wasserman
Oct. 27, 2016, 1:38 pm

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