“Wants to be a model for children & still keep doing all the adult stuff for fun
and for the moment, she’s keeping her two lives secret from one another”
for months or possibly years, we never used our dining room table. the formal one that held feasts for holidays. for months it held nothing but glass and tools. i used to watch him as he cut colored glass, as he laid out the pieces in patterns that would become hanging kitchen lamps.
children back then were seen and not heard.
i sat in silence watching his silence, watching his passion as he forgot i was there observing. i became very good at being quiet and observing. a cigar hanging off his lip with the longest string of drool mixed with ash falling to the table. he was simply too focused on what he was doing to stop and breathe or swallow or even find an ashtray.
last week i learned that it was actually my mom who fueled that passion in my dad. she saw the ad, somewhere in my childhood of new jersey, she signed him up for nightclasses, and so he learned to create beauty from stained glass.
last week she let that little nugget of knowledge out into the world. her mouth formed the words that share so little now. the words that come as if in code. you have to know how to jump in the middle of double dutch to follow her thoughts “i thought he would like it” she said, in the middle of a conversation about something entirely different. she knows what i need to hear. and she shares it with me when she can, as hurkey jurkey as she is now with words thoughts streams of consciousness. she knows enough in her mind to share it before it’s gone forever.
i will never forget the image of my dad hunched over that dining room table creating art from tiny pieces of glass. it was him letting down his guard, and letting me watch him create. it was the best gift he could have given me.
share your passion. don’t be greedy and keep it to yourselves. share it. and let your kids watch. it’s the greatest gift you could give them.
something happens when you face down death. in childbirth, when you escape death you are given life twice over. once for your baby and once again for you. suddenly you have no more tolerance for negativity. life is too beautiful to be wasted squandering it on anything but love. i am walking proof of this. as painful as it is true.
when you face down death five years later with illness, another shift occurs. a wake up if you will. a reminder of what is so easily taken. a threat of something gigantic and hereditary that looms in the distance for either yourself or your siblings. the shadow of death scares you into action. into passion. and into sharing it by any means possible.
for how many years did i wonder how to be both? both woman and mother. how to mix the two into the perfect cocktail of me? for years i pondered over this. and now today with the reminder of loss hovering in the air (always always it’s hovering now) it’s become apparent that life is simply too short to do anything but share your passion.
find it. whatever it is. and share it with your kids. one day your mother might fall mute and won’t be able to share the stories herself. one day she will be lost to you. and you will realize too late that part of you, your own childhood, will have disappeared with her into the darkness of her mind. this thought, this reality is frightening me into action.
you could say i’m taking it as a challenge.
get off your ass and dance.
there are all these things i want river to know. i want him to know who i am. i want to be most like me every minute of every day. and i want to share that passion with him. because life is too short not to.
and so i dance. i crank up the tunes while boiling pasta and chopping veggies and pickles and cheese into cubes for dinner. i dance in the tiny kitchen that won’t always be. i feel most like myself and it’s contagious to him.
me being me at my innermost core makes him happy to be around me.
whatever you do. whatever you love. please share it with your kids. take them to that art gallery. sit beside them to sort legos in silence when you feel miles apart. knit from the couch while they mother their babies. read stories outloud. draw when they draw. dance when they dance.
it’s the only way i’ve found to have it both ways. to be all the pieces of me in one place: mother, woman, dreamer, writer, photographer, lover of life, sister, daughter, friend. it’s true, children watch and learn. and they love what you love when you share it with them.