When my first daughter, Melanie, was born, her father and I lived in a tiny house out in the country, on a little lake, in Minnesota. This was a dwelling where, for eight months of the year, thick ice grew on the inside of the windows and I had to sit in one spot in front of a pot bellied stove to keep warm. Thank goodness Melanie was born in July!
That first month was of course a month of re-grouping around the new reality of being parents. I was quickly designated 'pc' (primary caretaker), hence Melanie was my job, twenty-four seven. Job? Yes. And joy and wonder and miracle and delight and companion. During that first week at home, when her minute tummy needed regular filling and and my own deep sleep was now a stranger, I would pull myself out of bed in the middle of the night to feed her. One night I carried her downstairs to nurse her. We sat in the semi darkness in my Nanny's rocking chair, with each of our two dogs (a wolf-like Siberian Husky named Sasha and a gloriously plumey Collie named Maggie) on either side of me. I put on a record of Sarah Vaughn's singing and brought Melanie to my breast. There we sat in the darkness, rocking and being together, ALL of us. I watched Melanie's little hands squeeze and unsqueeze and her face shift from intense sucking to soft relaxation. Her eyes closed and I moved her gently to my shoulder to pat out the little air bubbles and WHOOP! Up came the milk, ALL of it, with a PLOP, onto the rug, over my shoulder, right in front of Maggie's nose. Maggie took one look at it, looked over to Sasha, who was watching like a cat, and both dogs vamoosed to the upstairs. Melanie looked at me with a wobbly little head, I looked at her, Sarah Vaughn kept right on singing and the thought went through my head "OH MY GOD! This is real! For the next twenty years I will be the one who takes care of this baby! No matter what anyone else says, THIS IS MY JOB!". Little did I know that it's not twenty years, it's forever in a mother's heart. FOREVER.
Last week Melanie took me to see a Renoir exhibit at Lacma. My soul felt home and happy. There is a comfort that is unique unto motherhood (and not necessarily SO for the offspring) in being together. Even with the differences that pop and bloom and the challenges in human connection, the soul recognizes this other with pure joy. This gallery expedition will so far forever be my favorite because of the moments we shared. Being with her. Being with my daughter. When our children are grown, these shared moments are sparkles of dancing light on the pool of life. Thank you Melanie.