“Boy Mom” from Venus Finds Life on Mars by Andrea Santo Felcone

Mars Rover It’s been a long time since I’ve lived on Venus. Sometimes I miss it. No, not the actual Venus of course, but “Venus the female planet” from author John Gray’s “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” book. Remember that book? The one that infiltrated pop culture (back in the 1990s) as Gray offered relationship advice, particularly in the realm of male and female communication styles. Gray set about helping readers navigate the rocky terrain of either “Mars” or “Venus” (whichever wasn’t your “home planet”). According to Gray, men like to retreat to their “caves” (you would have figured “craters”, but no, “caves”), while women have the need to talk things through (often without seeking solutions to problems, just “venting”). Of course, these are all gender generalizations, but, I started thinking how in Gray’s terms, I’m a transplant—of sorts.

I grew up in a house of females (as a ‘70s child of divorce). But, now, I share my life with my two sons and husband. So, I suppose that makes me a former Venusian living on Mars. To be more specific, I’m a mom of boys (Martian), who loves words and conversation (Venusian), particularly over coffee (Colombian). I’m a “stay at home” mom (except when I go out—sometimes I take “The Rover” for a spin) who, while introverted, enjoys social interaction. One of my weekday highlights: the moment I am reunited with two of my very favorite “Martians,” my beloved sons, so I can catch up on all the details of their day:

Me: “How was school today?”

Older Son: (monotone): “Good.”

Me: “Have a lot of homework?”

Older Son: (monotone): “Nope.” (OR, if feeling chatty: “Not much.”)

O.K., he’s a teenager, it’s to be expected. (Maybe he’s in his “cave” now? I’ll leave him alone.)

The younger son–he’s at that age when he’ll relay all the details:

Me (switching gears to non “yes” or “no” questions): “What did you do in school today?”

Younger son: (monotone): “Stuff.”

Me: “Oh, I know, you had gym today. You love gym, what happened in gym?”

Younger son: (monotone): “Things.”

So, “stuff” and “things” OR sometimes it’s “things” and “stuff”. Often, from the both of them, it’s: “I don’t remember”.

(Here’s a kid with all those fresh brain cells, who enjoys gym, and he “can’t remember”? I guarantee you if I go to Pilates, I remember every torture-inducing moment.)

Toward the end of the week, having learned nothing new about my children and how they spend their time, I either resign myself to this “Martian” style of communication, OR, I go all “Venusian” on them. I got “snippy” once: “Oh, so it wasn’t THINGS today, but STUFF instead?”

To which my (then four-year-old) son said: “Yeah, “THINGS” was moved to Friday.”

Honest, no joke, that’s what he said. (Had to hand it to him that day.)

It’s bewildering, because if you grew up on Venus too, or maybe passed through (on your way to Mars), you’ll remember that in “Girl World” every word (and there were many of them), or sigh, eyebrow-raise, shrug–meant something. It was all parsed, dissected, analyzed, beaten to death (or at least to within an inch of its life). If I had a bad day—I vented. If I had a funny story—I relayed every detail. If nothing happened, we discussed why nothing happened–ad nauseam. If something happened (big or small)—I ran to my best friend to share.

Because, it’s almost as if it didn’t happen, if you can’t share it with another person in the retelling. Everything needs to be relived so layers of meaning can be applied. That’s just the way it worked in “Girl World” a.k.a. Venus.

I tried (recently) to give up my “lengthy style of communication/Venusian-speak”–as the saying goes … “When in Mars, do as the Martians”, etc.–and all I did was type my usual emails and then hit the backspace key–repeatedly. Delete. Delete. Delete. But, to be that sparse, felt so “un-me”. (I don’t find it surprising that Twitter was invented by a man. The 140 character “Tweet” is practically a thesis on Mars.)

So, if I get homesick for Venus, I know I can always call a “Girl Mom”. And, more often than not, they’ll dish. But, I’ve noticed something. Apparently there’s too much Venus on Venus these days. These Moms know too much. It’s like they want to tell their daughters: “For the love of all things holy, please keep something to yourself,” but they can’t. And, initially, I’m a little jealous. Because I know I’m going home to Martian “stuff” and “things” and I’m craving details.

But, then, they begin to fill in the gaps. I must appear like Tom Hanks in “Cast Away” having just come across a real live person after having a deflated soccer ball as my main companion (take no offense “Martians”—this is exaggeration to make a point). I’m just hungry for details, words, conversation. And then I hear the stories (a child was taken out of the Middle School on a stretcher OR some 12-year-olds are “dating”) and darn it if I don’t want to find myself a little Martian crater and hunker down. Take a trip right back to the “cave”. It’s safe and warm there and this kind of information doesn’t get through–not easily at least.

So now I look at these “Girl Moms”, and I wonder, if I’ve landed on Mars–for a reason. I’m a sensitive soul. Maybe I can’t handle all the details? Maybe my boys are protecting me? (Boys can be pretty protective of their Moms.) Or maybe it’s a physical thing? Maybe they really “can’t remember” things due to the atmospheric pressure on Mars or the gravitational pull?

Yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve lived on Venus. A day on Venus, can last anywhere from 114 to 243 Earth days (approximately), which by some of the drama-filled stories I’ve heard from “Girl Moms”–sounds about right. By comparison a day on Mars is only about 40 minutes longer than a day spent on Earth. (“Stuff” and “things” are relatively uncomplicated and not all that time-consuming.) And although I wasn’t born here, sometimes I have to admit, it’s nice and peaceful in the craters.

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  1. 5 Responses to ““Boy Mom” from Venus Finds Life on Mars by Andrea Santo Felcone”

  2. I can so relate to this Andrea. My son is 14 and I get some of those responses as well…but what I’ve also experienced is that he will share more willingly when I least expect it. For example, he’s been known to share a big reveal when he’s sitting in the backseat and I’m driving…at times prompting me to want to pull over immediately to have a heart to heart. The timing can be nutty, but I’m glad he can be forthcoming and initiate when he chooses.

    By Robin Gorman Newman on Apr 5, 2017

  3. Thank you sharing!! It is so comical yet rings true. Having two teenagers, boy 15 and girl 13, I can relate to both sides. . Wonderful “stuff”!!

    By Suzanne Vasquez on Apr 5, 2017

  4. My new favorite quote: “‘Things’ was moved to Friday.” hahahahahahaha

    By Rachel Schramm on Apr 8, 2017

  5. I never thought about male/female conversations until you pointed it out. So true, so true. The retelling of an event shares the information and gives you a chance to relive it.

    By Marcia on Apr 9, 2017

  6. I never thought about male/female conversations until you pointed it out. So true, so true.

    The retelling and sharing of an event gives you the chance to relive the experience.

    By Marcia on Apr 9, 2017