[about the author]
i actually like speaking in front of large crowds. freakish,
i work crossword puzzles in ink.
i am the american nigella lawson. or maybe the american eddie
izzard. can't decide, really.
i would be a really good mom, but i'm cool with being a really
i am sometimes more perceptive than i would like to be.
i am fiercely loyal. sometimes, stupidly so.
i never play dumb. never.
i am way too hard on myself.
i am a change agent.
i sometimes cross that fine line between assertive and aggressive.
i am not afraid to tell people that i love them.
i am militantly pro-choice.
i am pro-adoption.
i know a little bit about alot of things.
i typically enjoy the company of men more than women.
i am capable of being really mean and nasty, but i fight it.
i am a lifelong cubs fan. do not laugh.
i have been known to hold a grudge.
i have hips.
i am not my sister.
i am lousy at forgiving myself.
i am an indoor kind of gal.
i am a bargain shopper. to the point of obsession.
i am 32 flavors. and then some.
my niece is two. well, two-and-a-half. almost three, really. this is a distinction she would be quick to point out to me.
when we're playing together, or reading together, or just sharing some french fries, there is nothing else in the world. it's just the two of us. and there is something wonderfully escapist about that. being with her makes me forget all the other things.
this weekend, she sat at the table as my mother and i discussed strategic plans for grocery shopping.
"heyyyy" she interrupted.
"just a second, please, samantha, we're talking."
"just one moment, please, samantha. it isn't polite to interrupt."
and with that, all conversation stopped. manners are a big deal in my family. we're huge "please" and "thank you" people. a dying breed it seems these days.
and while my sister and brother-in-law do their level best to instill manners in their darling two-and-a-half year old, sometimes it's tough. especially when i sit down to watch finding nemo or monsters inc. and hear "stupid" and the ubiquitous "shut up." they're active parents, always quick to remind samantha "my goodness! that wasn't very nice of sully, was it?" but she hears it nonetheless.
"samantha! you know better than that, young lady! we don't say 'shut up.' it isn't nice. we use our manners! please apologize for being rude to us."
and down goes the chin, and out goes the lip.
and just when you think the lip couldn't go out any further, there it goes.
sigh. there's something incredibly adorable about a two-and-a-half year old sighing.
"thank you. we use our manners, okay?"
and so my mother and i return to our strategic grocery shopping planning.
"one moment, please, samantha."
"samantha! what did we just talk about? manners, young lady!"
and there's a long pause as she finishes coloring buzz lightyear's rocket.
and she looks up at me with these beautiful eyes and says "shut up peeeease!"
these are the times when i laugh so hard i can't breathe. the times that are euphoric. lighter than air. she and i will collapse into giggle fits about absolutely everything and absolutely nothing. about a pine cone. about a purple crayon. about socks.
on the other hand, she is a reminder to me of what i will most likely never have.
i don't lie awake at night imagining i can feel my ovaries shrinking into nothingness, the tick-tock of my biological clock like a dripping faucet gnawing at my nerves. i've never felt a sense of urgency, or felt as though my window of child-bearing opportunity was slipping away and i was desperate to prop it open somehow. it's not that sort of panicked "oh my god! woe unto me and unto my shrunken ovaries" kind of thing.
it's more of a sense of quiet sadness. a sigh that washes over my whole body. thinking that i could have been a really good mom, and that i very much would have liked to have been. but, i just don't think it's in the cards for me. it's sort of like the day you realize that this is as tall as you'll ever be. all those years of wishing and hoping that you were going to end up at five-eight-and-a-half, but it turns out you're only going to be five-five-and-three-quarters and that's the way it is. you didn't spend weeks crying into your pillow. you just shrugged your shoulders and accepted it.
it's not really a defeatist sort of thing, either. it's just that i have this feeling. a sense of knowing. of acceptance, i guess. it would have been very nice, and i wish it had been different, but it is what it is and there are worse things in the world.
and, after all, i do have samantha. a chance to shower all my love on her. to buy her books. to take her to museums. to teach her to count in spanish. or, more likely, to curse in spanish.
but sometimes, just when i think it's okay with me, i find that maybe it's not as okay as i'd like to think.
like when i ask her to help me pack my suitcase.
and she says "oh nooo!"
and i say "yes, i have to go home today, but i promise to come visit again soon."
and she throws both of her arms around my neck and tells me "aunt looolie, i miss you already!"
and i feel her tiny body pressed up against mine and smell the sweetness of her hair. and there's a lump in my throat. and i can feel the beginning of a small hole in my heart. and there's a picture in my mind of a little girl with a headful of wild curls and big brown eyes fringed with thick dark lashes and a laugh that brings tears to your eyes because you've never heard anything so beautiful and so light.
and i close my eyes tight and breathe her in, trying not to think about what might have been.
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