Friday, November 06, 2009

Our Photo Album

I came upon this snapshot during my futile search for photographic proof of the Cookie Monster sweatshirt. It was in an album of my early years. The same book is littered with photos of my mother, who was roughly the same age I am now. She was beautiful. She was unlined. She was unfettered by even one extra pound. She seemed happy enough.

I find it so hard to see the mother I know now in that Kodaked woman with the black, black hair. I find it even harder not to fear the future. What would she have thought if she could've looked into the time-weary eyes of some fortune teller and seen herself as I do? She could only have been incredulous. No way. No fucking way.

They were my formative years, but I think they shaped her, too. Being a wife and mother can teach you more than you ever imagined you'd learn about yourself. It can be the most rewarding role of your life. But it can also guide you--with a hand so gentle you'd never think it was holding you back--into so much rationalization and cover up that you fail to see how things could be any way other than they are. You can play the martyr so well that you become one.

I don't know what happened. I was sheltered from most of the details of my parents' lives by virtue of being their daughter. I know little bits here and there, but they only serve to emphasize that I know nothing. I grew up happy, along with my siblings, and maybe my mother thinks that's the only thing that matters. In fact, I know she does.

I look at the photo album and I have to disagree. My baby book isn't just about me, the baby. It's about my parents, too. It's about the early choices that made the rest of their lives.

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