Friday, April 23, 2010

Benediction

"Is he your first?" she asked, cooing towards G, who was smiling from dreamland in his stroller.

"My third," I answered, and smiled, because I quite enjoy the reactions that piece of information elicits.

"Your third! Oh, my! But you look so young!"

(I love old people.)

"I'm in my 30s," I told her. "I'm old enough to have three kids -- promise."

"Well, let me think about it," she said. "I have three, too, and my youngest boy is 55. Maybe I was about your age...I'm 83 now, and...hmmm...do you think it's too sunny for math? Some days are too sunny for math."

"You would have been 28," I offered.

"Close enough," she offered back. "But you know, everything was different for women then. We had different roles; we told ourselves that the time for us would come later. You probably got your education first, started your career first, didn't you?"

"I did," I assented. "Both of those things."

"And now you have three kids. What a blessing. But listen, remember that the kids aren't your only blessing. We always thought, 'this is the kids' time. Our time will be later.' But now my husband is sick, has been for years. We never really got to the 'later.'"

"I'm sorry," I said quietly.

She brushed my words away with her hand, swatting the unpleasantness from our space. "That's not my point. You listen to an old lady. You're doing things right: you can have it all. Be proud of yourself as a woman, and let 'as a mother' be only part of that. Remember that you can do anything while you're tending to everything. Don't wait. Live your life today and don't wait for tomorrows."

She patted me on the shoulder, rested her timeworn hand momentarily on G's naked toes, and walked away.

She called back once, fixing me with a heavy stare. "Remember what I told you." And then she kept walking. Quickly, she was enveloped in the blinding sunlight, and was gone. Pin It