Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I still had several errands to run and it would soon be naptime and I was, as usual, stressed. But then I realize, wait a second, take a breath and get some perspective on what’s really important. This is what I wanted. This is what I have waited for. Pushing a stroller while looking back to make sure the toddler was following. Not only was she following, but with glee. I love her smile, her exuberance.

When people ask me if I will have another, I often say no, she demands too much of my attention. Some of that has to do with being firstborn in my own family where I was often ignored while my mother tended to my needier, younger siblings. Yet I get my independence from those experiences, and I do love my independence.

I worry that I am smothering her. My inability to leave her with her father for just an hour because something might happen. The cat might come too close and she won’t be able to resist grabbing his tail and he will scratch her again on the face. But her daddy says to me, “Go already, and stop worrying.”

I only wish I could stop worrying. She still has not been away from me overnight. Nor has she been driven away from me, as in having her daddy or someone else take her somewhere while I remained where she and I once were. I am becoming afraid that I am going to be one of those birthmothers who, when they do parent a child, can’t let go.

As for another child, I find myself coming up with “logical” excuses for not having another one. Just like I came up with logical excuses for not having her for so long.

Meanwhile my son, my firstborn, wants nothing to do with me. In a way, that makes things nice and neat for me. I can handle rejection; I just can’t handle ambiguity – especially the kind I have been living for the last 16.5 years.

It also makes me glad I didn’t wait any longer to have my daughter. For a long time, I thought there would be some contact with him. If I did not have her already I think I would be devastated by his rejection.

Friday, January 04, 2008


One of my favorite songs a couple of years ago was Matchbox 20's Unwell. Back then I, like many people, still joked about being crazy. After watching what happened to my dad, and seeing it in his mother, it's not funny anymore.

What are we if we are not ourselves?

And feeling pretty sure that is my fate, too, it has really changed my perspective on my life and its meaning and purpose. I am still working through it all, but for the first time I am truly realizing that in life none of "this" matters to anyone but me anyway.

As I've thought about my father's life now that it's ended and his life force is gone from all of us, I am reminded of the opening scenes of a Jeff Goldbum movie I saw years ago where he makes elaborate dishes and then tosses them into the garbage. It seems like such a waste of time and effort to do that, but right now I feel like that is a good analogy for life. We spend so much time and effort ... and for what? Jeff's character just enjoyed the process, it didn't matter to him that there was no purpose after the dish was done. But that's never been enough for me. While I should learn to enjoy the process of any task, I like to know there is more purpose for all my effort.

Another voice in my head reminds me of the Epicureans who believe(d) that we should eat, drink & be merry for our time on earth is short, something I have believed for a while. But still, it's easier to do that in ignorance of the unknown rather than with first-hand experience with dementia. (And the truth is hearing the diagnosis spoken glibly from a doctor in a smug "I was right" tone, together with the description of a shrinking brain and wrong colored matter was in itself traumatic.)

The book of Ecclesiastes contains a message similar to the Epicurean philosophy. The author arrives at his conclusion after noting that there is nothing new under the sun and all seems like chasing wind. He puts it so well when he says, "Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun." (Ecc 2:11, NIV) That is how I feel right now.