My sister just had a baby this week, her 3rd in 7 years. I have one “baby” who is almost 12. We visited her in the hospital yesterday and held her baby while she slept and rested. Newborns naturally remind me of my own time with my own one. Sadly, that time passes all too quickly. Although I wept a bit when my daughter went to sleep-away camp for 5 days this summer, I will weep for so long when she leaves for college…
I will be 38 when she leaves for college.
I could start over. Again.
You see, there is nothing that staves off my own death like the preoccupation involved in raising children. They are so alive that it is impossible to dwell on one’s death. There is no room for it, it is preposterous, these hips are for carrying babies on and these breasts are for convincing men that I am absolutely full…of potential.
But the feeling of supreme femininity that we ride as we float/claw through early motherhood, when we resemble the entirety of the universe to ur children, it fades. Our children get old enough and soon we wee our replacements entering the door after school, waking up with rosy cheeks and batting longer eyelashes than you will ever have, with no creases on the sides of their eyes or sadness drooped or clenching in the corners of downturned lips.
This sounds so depressing but it IS November and I am in full custody of a seasonal depression and I’m required to write as often as I can about the lament of the mortal.
What I’m getting at is that as your child gets older, the dread of our own deaths becomes more apparent. When you have your child young…you can tend to look at the possibility of having another child as an escape from the inevitable, a reversal in time.
And not just the physical death, but the cultural death that happens when one’s nest is empty. How frightening? I have sheltered my mothering life with my daughter’s friends, my niece and nephew, children-feeding them, tending to them, entertaining them and being entertained. For them to all go, would leave me pathological, with nothing…
I am being glum. I know I can build a new life in 6 years when my daughter leaves the nest…but it would be soon much easier in some ways to add ore twigs, pad up a few more feathers into the walls, and remain safe in a nest, safe in a motherhood, for a few more years. Just one more time?
These are the thoughts I have when surrounded by others’ fertility in a maternity ward. How lucky! How lucky to be so oblivious, protected from death in that special way that being essential imposes.