Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Eight years ago I looked into the newborn eyes of my baby daughter and became her mother forever.

Eight years ago I couldn't have conceived of the beautiful child I saw this morning when I woke her up by smoothing the hair from her damp, sleepy forehead and patted her on the shoulder.

She groaned and pushed my hand away without opening her eyes. "Go away," she muttered. "I'll get up when you leave."

I remember when she used to bounce up on her knees and peek at me through the bars of her crib every morning, grinning and stretching out her arms to me.

"Happy birthday," I reminded her.

I saw her smile to herself, as if maybe she had until that moment forgotten.

My oldest child's birthday will always be significant as the day in time that I crossed over. Nothing was only about me anymore, and nothing about me mattered quite as much as the child that was mine.

I cried when she was born, and I wept for hours afterward at all the wonder and magic of childbirth, of looking into the beautiful, wide eyes of another soul. But the realization that this soul would call me mother, that would come later.

There was an almost painful sense of separateness and apprehension that first night when I sat on the edge of my bed, unpregnant, looking down at her asleep in the basinet. Was it safe to look away? Would she still breathe if I didn't anticipate every breath? Could I set aside the awareness of her tiny heart beating beneath her tiny ribs, and would it still beat?

That feeling nags at the heart of mothering, I think. Constantly wavering between astonishment that your child moves and thinks on her own, and the worry that she should move more, think more.

The baby that she was smiled when I coaxed her to smile and ate when I urged her to eat. She walked early, talked clearly, slept well, and very rarely cried or complained. Then I found out that easy babies turn into complicated children. My bright, thoughtful toddler disliked getting her hands dirty with finger paint and didn't run and play with the sense of adventure I saw in other toddlers.

My eight-year-old child is complicated and perfect. Complex and unpredictable and moody and brilliant. And her mother is simply background in her life, hopefully as unremarkable and constant as her own skin, and as comforting as the soft blanket she curls up with at the window during a rainstorm.

That's what I want to be forever.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Footnote to previous blog.

You should be aware that when you read "library-slash-study" your mind should translate it as "library/study". Get it? "slash" = "/". NOT: Library wear ski mask and hide behind tree in park at midnight, while waiting for study to walk home alone.

I apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Thanks to all who wrote in with suggested uses for my empty living room. I'm happy to announce that a decision has been reached.

Though it does have some appeal, we will not be incorporating Reader A's idea for a kiddie roller rink atop the hardwood floors of which I am reasonably proud. Nor do we have the resources to install oversized aquarium tanks, as Reader B proposed, in order to house an exhilarating assortment of colorful fishies.

Instead, with my parents' generous donation of the piano I grew up with, the living room has embarked on its journey toward being made over into a library-slash-study. What does a library-slash-study have to do with pianos?


We just really liked the library idea, okay?

And pianos don't generally belong in libraries, but the living room has nice acoustics, so when someone is playing the piano it will be referred to as the study.

Because technically music is a subject to be studied. Or something.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

There is no arbitrary value in human life.

There is value in what that life can mean to other lives. Its value is potential. It is the risk of never knowing what might have been.

The delinquent boy in fifth grade might cure cancer, so we keep him. Investing resources, tax dollars, sweat and effort, until he fails one test too many and we discard him to become a drunken, wife-beating auto mechanic who smells of axel grease and cigarette smoke, who leers too long at little girls passing his shop on their way to school. To the little girls' mothers, to the cancer patient quietly dumbfounded by the diagnosis in the leather chair of a physician's office, his life has no value.

But his value to the young lady with the malfunctioning transmission is immeasurable.

Were he to have been killed when his wife, tears streaming and bruises darkening, lifted an unsteady pistol and threatened to end it, the young lady might have been stranded for hours on the side of the highway in her light pink dress and white heels.

Value. It is measured by what will be lost when a person is gone – dies or withers away in stifling loneliness and self-imposed solitude. In fear of connecting with others and in fear of not connecting.

"You mean nothing to me," says the young lady's lover, and she is nothing.

Monday, June 02, 2003

I remember why I stopped posting for so long. Blogger. It pains me.
As illustrated in the mention below about "swiffering" with my new Swiffer WetJet, I've become more aware of products that are household-naming themselves right into my practical vocabulary. Maybe it's because I work in advertising and the psychology of consumers amuses me. Anyway, I'm talking about brands that become generalized to mean THE THING, such as "a Kleenex" instead of a tissue, or...

Okay, I admit that's the only example I can think of. All I can think of are Kleenexes because I have a cold. My nose is stuffy and I need a damn Kleenex. I don't have any Kleenexes at my desk. So I'm blowing my nose into paper towels, which is about as much fun as washing your face with sand paper. And what the hell is the plural of Kleenex? Kleenices? It's a freaking brand name. It doesn't have a plural. That's my whole point.