Friday, January 20, 2006
Heart outside your body
"Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body." - Elizabeth Stone It's an old fairy-tale plot: In order to live forever, someone removes his heart and puts it somewhere for safekeeping, away from where anyone can harm it. Obviously, this person is not a parent. There are times when OmegaMom peeps into the bedroom when OmegaDotter is sleeping, and runs her eyes across that sweep of cheekbone with the waterfall of hair falling across it like velvety brown wisps, and her heart just stops. OmegaMom sees her then: As a child, as a teen, as an adult. She will be beautiful. (OmegaMom is not biased. She has it on excellent authority [OmegaGranny's, and Mr. OmegaMom's] that this is so. So there.] But OmegaMom doesn't want others to see just superficial beauty. She wants others to look at OmegaDotter and see the twinkling toes that dance when OmegaDotter is happy and excited. She wants others to see the thoughtful gaze, where OmegaDotter's eyes go pointing up and to the right (just like Mommy's), when she's about to Make A Pronouncement: "Well, akshully, I think x, y, z." She wants others to know that deep down belly laugh that is so contagious you can't help but laugh with her. She realizes that, someday, somewhere, someone will capture OmegaDotter's heart. Probably a bunch of times. And sometimes that other someone will be someone who just can't see beyond the surface, which will kill OmegaMom. Oh, the thought that some dorky pimply obnoxious teen boy will want OmegaDotter just because of that sweep of cheekbone, and not because of the belly laugh...argh. And then there are the darker thoughts: What if Something happens? A friend on a list OmegaMom is on got a heart-stopping call from daycare yesterday. Little J had fallen from the top of a slide, and wasn't responding. They had to airlift her to the pediatric intensive care unit. There was blood on the brain. Everyone on the list was horrified, and rallied around J's mom. There were anxious emails flying to and fro--"Has anyone heard from A? Is J okay?" "What's the latest word?" "Who lives near A? Who can drive out and help her?" And OmegaMom--who was also horrified--got off the computer to help Mr. OmegaMom put the Dotter to bed, and looked at OmegaDotter surreptitiously out of the corner of her eyes. What if...? Oh, Kozmik All, please, never, ever make us get that call. Please... The good news: J is home, all is well now, and A swears it was the longest 24 hours in her life. But, oh my lord. Just in the flash of an instant...in a simple accident...so much could change. So OmegaMom watches OmegaDotter out of the corner of her eye, and finds herself grabbing snapshots, vignettes. Just in case. Because OmegaMom's heart is now walking outside her body, in the form of a bossy four-year-old who loves horses, who can sing the words to silly songs that her daddy makes up for her, who dribbles stuffed animals all over the house, and who is beginning to become more empathetic and thoughtful every day. Over there. See her? She's my heart. And it's a lot less safe outside my body than when it was safely tucked away behind my lungs and ribs and flesh and boobs.