Thursday, March 16, 2006

Motherhood: The common denominator

Thursday, March 16:

My sister e-mails me for the first time since I told our mother the baby news last week. My sister and I don't e-mail each other very much -- just once in a while. We also almost never talk on the phone -- just like my mother and me. It's just a thing.

She has a different dad, but she's the closest sibling to me in age and childhood experiences. Other than that -- and the habit of twirling our curly/hyper-wavy hair -- we are so unalike in every way that you'd think we grew up on different sides of the continent.

For example: Even though she is just 5.5 years older, she has had five children. Five. Unfortunately, the middle child, a son, died when he was a boy. This was during the time I was estranged from this side of my family, and I wasn't aware of all that was happening. But my nephew had caught some kind of bacteria or virus that made him have to live on life support. One day, the life support failed. I can't imagine what that was like for my sister, and I don't have the heart to ask her. Maybe someday.

You would think a woman with five children is like Supermom, or especially matronly, or a real homemaker type. Not her. My mother says she is like a lioness with her cubs. My sister was always the tomboy, the wild one getting in trouble -- and she still is somewhat, her cooking skills and reputation as the Queen of Laundry Spots notwithstanding. And that's just the way it should be. Why does everyone think you have to soften up in order to be a mother? The more I think about motherhood, the more I believe it takes a tough person to do the job.

Anyway, her youngest is now 16. So it's been a while since any babies came her way.

This is what she writes me today:

"Oh my goodness, it was so nice to hear your news about the baby. I am so happy for you guys. Now you guys get a chance to see what this parent thing is all about. As I look back and think maybe we should have done things differently, I am always glad that I am the mom I am. Fortunately, our kids have good parents. And you guys will also be very good parents.

"Your mom on the other hand is just going crazy trying to shop for the baby and not knowing what colors to buy because you don't know if it's a boy or a girl. Watching her shop is so fun, she gets so excited looking for things and picking things out, she just wants to know pink or blue. I told her if you don't want to know, that's you guys' decision, and she says to me today, do you think she would have her doctor call me and let me know? I promise not to tell her. I said Mom, now you really are being silly.

[Note from me: Do you see what I freaking mean about the stupid pink and blue tyranny that reigns for all babyhood?! Some company, somewhere, make some neutral clothes! The baby doesn't freaking care what s/he wears! Help a mother out!]

"Mom said you were due late August or early September. What a time to be due in hurricane season, oh my goodness. Just be careful.

"I am actually very excited too. I can't wait. It's been a long time since there was a baby to buy for. Anyway congratulations, I am so very happy for you guys. Keep in touch, I will see you in May."

There is something about a baby that brings out a clarity, a realness, to people.

And now, I suppose, motherhood will be something we have in common besides the texture of our hair.


Anonymous HolyMama! said...

the first of many interesting family emails, i bet!!

(I like neutral baby clothes in plain old ivory.)

11:02 PM  

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