Thursday, August 10, 2006
This is the face of indigestion, age: 3 weeks. 20 years ago this night, at about this time, I ate a significant portion of a large pizza with extra cheese, hamburger and onions, and drank an orange soda, which I detest but on that occasion tasted good. Then I sat in my mother's rocking chair and rocked, oblivious of my mother or my then-husband in the next room. I just needed to sleep, I thought, and take a Tums, and all would be well.
We went home and I went to bed. At 2am my indigestion was 3 minutes apart and by 8am it was on my chest, squalling and gray. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. There is nothing to explain that moment of insanity in a mother, when that odd looking animal is placed in their arms and they are certain that they have never seen anything as lovely, and never will again.
Funny though...I've pretty much had the same indigestion for 20 years. It comes and goes now, not as present as it has been, but still there and I suspect always will be. Today my indigestion called me at 6am to ask how to make french toast. Some days it calls because life is unfair and it is upset. Some days it calls to complain about it's Other Parent, or it's grandmother, or it's girlfriend. Some days it calls to say it's got a wonderful new job, or money in the bank, or something equally stellar. Someday it will call to tell me it is marrying, or having indigestion of it's own. I will laugh secretly knowing what's ahead. But that's fair; I am sure my parents laughed at me when I came to them at 18, insisting I was getting married, and then again three months into the marriage, when I announced I was pregnant. But in the end it's all good.
I know they shook their heads a lot more when I remarried a man with two kids of his own, older than mine. But that worked out too, in it's own sweet time. There were bumps along the way, to be sure. His youngest child displaced by a new "baby" in the form of the 2 year old Girl, and my first born son often taking a back seat to two older stepbrothers. You can bet there were issues. There were times when I despaired for all of us except the dog, who seemed unmoved and secure in her universe. The rest of us foundered and struggled and wondered.
When I look back at them then, and see my face stamped into both of theirs in a way I never saw it before, I am struck by the power of motherhood. Inside of me I nurtured and cradled two lives. Two whole other people, who came out of me and into their own. No other relationship in your entire life will ever be as close physically, genetically and in many ways emotionally as that of a mother and her children. Even a father (and I mean no disrespect to the noble role of fatherhood) can't even be as close to his children as a mother can. They grow in us from a mere bit of DNA, two cells coming together to create a new whole, developing, growing until they emerge as independent people. I't pretty bloody staggering, really.
Tomorrow I will call my indigestion at 7:59 am and wish him a happy birthday. He will tell me how old I now am, and I will dismiss it. I don't feel 39 most of the time anyway. And it's not about age anyway. Age is relative. I's about life, experience, learning, growing. If you look at the face of that girl up there at the top, with that baby, I see someone I know but barely recognize. You'll see a lot of things - or I do. Exhaustion, confusion, dismay, fear. Mostly awe, though, amazement and awe. Whatever else I do in my life, wherever I go, whoever I become, it cannot compete on any level with the act of mothering.
Now, "WHO let that child take that BABY home with her????"