Posted by: alegra22 | December 20, 2010

mid-life

My daughter slips her fingers through mine and I am startled by how small they are, how delicate her bones. 

In the last few days she has navigated new faces and a Big Adventure that has taken her away from the protective presence of her father and the constant bounce, tousle, scuffle of her brothers. In response, she has transformed into a sturdy, fierce Person with a capital P.

During visits with friends, when her tolerance has reached its limits, we’ve retreated to have conversations in toilet stalls. “Zaviera, you’re being a little bit sassy with me.” She nods solemnly as she reaches for the toilet paper, her feet swinging. “I know Mommy. I’m sorry. It’s just I wanted you to play and play with me and you’re not, you’re talking, talking, talking.” She shrugs, gives me one of her toothy grins and once again we are a united front.  

I acknowledge the difficulty of having to sit through conversations she doesn’t understand. During one visit, she sat, her pigtails sprouting from the top of her head, a vision of rainbows, polka dots and innocence, as my friend Bonnie recounted the death of her 37 year-old son to leukemia. I helped to take care of his four children while he was undergoing a bone marrow transplant. I stood with Bonnie and the rest of her family as he took his last breath. “Now that you are a mother,” Bonnie said, “You can understand what that must have been like for me.” As we spoke, Zaviera unwrapped squares of butter and ate them whole. “Yes,” I said. There are so many things I understand differently now that I am a mother.

 In the dark, I hold Zaviera’s hand and try not to tighten my grip. I want to capture this light pooling in the warmth between our palms, spilling over through the gaps in our fingers. She is my little girl again, the capital P in Person retreating now that she is in the safety of her family. She falls asleep with her head on my chest.

I’ve been secretly worried that we’d been thrust through yet another developmental leap. It has occurred to me that the bittersweet of parenthood is rooted in the fact that we watch our children shed their skins over and over. We mourn as they dance away into the future. Picking up the delicate remains, we try to keep pace.  With each transition that we celebrate, we also learn to live with broken hearts.

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Responses

  1. It is all so true. Parenting is a constant balance between applause and mourning.

  2. Oh Alegra ! I so enjoy reading what you write. I am particularly touched by this one. I have been feeling like my oldest so beyond his years in many ways and I struggle with how help just be a child and yet not stifle who he is !
    Its such a difficult thing to want so much more for someone else then you could ever want for yourself and yet you have to let go sometimes when you want to hold on so tight !

  3. lord alegra – that is gorgeous.

  4. As always, love it. And I think in your previous blog you mentioned something about how you are not resilient? You are quite the contrary, just thought I’d let you know.


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