Saturday, February 26, 2011

Old Wallpaper (With Hindsight Commentary Added)

Okay, kids, here's a selection of excerpts from one of the old posts I was talking about. I'll make some remarks in italics.

Monday, March 13, 2006
The Saddest Joy Of Motherhood

[My older child]'s going to be twelve in a few weeks, and man, is my mighty heart breaking.

I remember when I found out that yes, I was indeed with child. I thought my life was not only ruined, but just plain over; little did I know that I was about to meet the coolest human being ever born. Not to mention THE most beautiful, THE smartest, THE one person in the wide world who not only has my exact same sense of humor, but who also has not yet heard all my material, and so thinks I am the funniest woman alive. Is there anything better? Is there? No, I didn't think so.

(Ed. Note: these days, she actually
does know all my material - and steals it at will. Can't decide whether to be flattered or sue her for copyright infringement. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, MAN! FREEEEDOMMMM!)

So the only downer to having the single most awesome baby on the face of the green earth is that somehow, the time slips away from you, and then that baby walks into the room one day and you realize that oh, nonono, she's as tall as you. And wears the same size shoes. And has zits and a tendency to burst into tears at the slightest change in the emotional temperature of the room, which you thought was your exclusive domain, dammit.

(Ed. Note: You will have seen this coming, since I wrote this five years ago, but shit, you guys, she's actually got inches on me these days - in the height and foot department. The kid is 17 now, after all.)

And when this happened to me, I asked myself: did I pay attention? Was I awake through all these years when she was growing tall and straight and strong? Because, see, I don't remember this coming on so quickly. It was just the other day that she was two or three or four months old, sitting in her high chair, and when I did 'peek-a-boo' she laughed for the first time. And stole my breath away.

It was such a beautiful, delicious, gurgly laugh, right up out of her round little baby belly, that it knocked me quite literally onto my ass. And I sat there and laughed, and she laughed some more, and we laughed together for that first time, and that was when I finally understood for really real that I have a kid, and thank you whoever's in charge, she likes me. And every time since then that I have been able to make her crack up, I think it again: praise be, my kid likes me. I mean, hey, most kids love their mom; but to have your kid like you - well, there isn't a good way to describe how grateful I am, still, to this day.

And I have a confession to make. Whenever somebody says to me, "Wow, she is so much like you," I am delighted. Not only is that a massive ego stroke that my kid is modeling herself after me, but the fact is, I know this girl, and she is so way cooler than me, way cooler than I was at her age, and so beautiful in ways that I never was and never will be. She is that one girl, the pretty girl that you think is going to be a total snot, who walks right up to you, looks you straight in the eye with an expression that says, "I know something good about you," grabs you by the hand, and says just the right thing to make you her friend for life. I know this. I have seen her do it a thousand times on a hundred playgrounds, and that right there is a gift I would have killed for in school. And that's just her natural self, and I marvel that an anti-social with reclusive tendencies like myself was able to bring this openhearted person into the realm.

But the true thing that makes my little girl the most beautiful and amazing girl ever the world did see? She's mine. My sweet baby that slept exclusively on my chest for the first six months of her life; my little punkin who made friends with the monsters under her bed rather than live in fear; my own sweet girl that I cuddled after shots while she sobbed and snuffled into my neck; my young lady who I sometimes don't recognize in a room full of family and friends, and when I realize that the strange woman I've been wondering about is my girl, my bright and shining girl, I get smacked in the heart by the weirdest combination of pride and sorrow. I know I did good, folks, the proof is there before me. But someday way too soon, some guy will trump me in the cool and funny department (too late - he's here and she's suffering from first love pangs constantly - fuck, this is hard to watch), she'll go off to college and get smarter than me (we're one year out and it isn't any easier to think about now), and all those ties, all this time that I've been living a happy dream with her, will be over. And I hate that I see it coming, but I am eager to find out who she will be.

(She is a delight. She is kind of an asshole, too, but that's because she's my kid and I raised her to not be afraid of being an asshole. Fearless and wonderful and gifted and kind and growing away from me by the minute.

This post, when I wrote it, was so direfully prophetic, and yet under all of the lamentation there is a wellspring of joy. She is so much of everything I hoped she would be, and so little of what I hoped she wouldn't. She is a gift, as is her sister, and I am so glad that these two were dealt to me in the shuffle. I am a fortunate being indeed.)

1 comment:

Sayre said...

You capture the bittersweetness of motherhood so beautifully here. My own experience is a little different, as I have a son rather than a daughter, but it is much the same. I raise him to be a competent, kind and productive adult. There are days I look at his room and wonder if that will ever happen, but you can't judge a boy by his room (or a girl either). You have spelled out my thoughts here so well!