Tuesday, July 12, 2011

French Braids

I try not to think about the things that haven't happened for me, the way they have for others. But, lately I've been feeling nostalgic. Weird. I know.

Yesterday I stopped at a crosswalk where two little girls were crossing with their dad, and one of the girls had her hair in a kind of sideways french braid, kind of diagonal. It was loose and rogue hairs had escaped during furious play. But it was mostly intact. And it made me think of how long she had to sit still that morning as her mother threaded and and braided her hair. And that made me think of the times my sister would herringbone braid my hair, or roll it in pink sponge rollers before bedtime. Family. Swim meets and little league and chasing fireflies in the front yard. Safe schools and safe neighborhoods and walking in Poland Woods through the blue belles. My blue two-wheeler with the banana seat. I thought about how old my siblings were when they had their first children. And how most of them were long-since parents by the time they were my age. They had long been french-braiding the hair of little towheaded girls.

My life is different. I have time to myself and I get to choose my schedule and I don't have to worry about how I'm going to take care of anybody else but me (and Libby). It's wonderful, and it's also hard sometimes.

I babysit a little girl, she's precious and about to turn two. Her mother is younger than I am. Sometimes I feel old and young all at once. I relate to the mom like I'm younger than her, like we're not even or on the same playing field. It's strange. Because we could be equals. She's only a few months my junior. Sometimes I feel old and young all at once. I know I said that already, but it was worth saying again.

I feel like there was a major thoroughfare running straight through the middle of town, and well, I wandered off through a path in the wood. Nearly everyone else was clamoring down the main road and getting married and having families. I'm still wheedling through the woods. It's not bad. It's quiet and I can hear myself think and I can read books and write and study and do whatever I want to. It's not an unequal path, for its goodness and it is at least as enjoyable at times as the thoroughfare.

I should really get to some point. But I think we smile at those on the other road - we listen to their stories of diaper rashes and first steps and children in the front yard, of first houses and vacations where families play at the beach. I listen to all these and other stories and I have no idea what that's like. Sometimes I feel like an alien in a married universe. ...and sometimes I take naps just because I want to... in the middle of the day... on a weekend. When's the last time you did that, moms? I try to remember that my life is no less full, despite the fact it has considerably less drama.

And I think about the day I'll french braid my own child's hair... or at least a that of a niece or a friend's daughter. I should get practicing. I'm all thumbs when it comes to braiding other people's hair.

Thanks sis, for the braids and the curlers and the times spent that make me winsome for times gone by, and times yet to come.


Joe Moderate said...

Beautifully and thoughtfully written. Thank you for posting this... it strangely articulates some of the same thoughts I have regarding children.

At work almost all of my married peers have children. I hear the disparaging way one of my married-with-children coworkers refers to one of our few married-without-children coworkers, and I wonder if he says similar things about me behind my back. ...but his comments are actually more jealous than disparaging; he sounds like a man who is happy to have kids but misses the days of freedom he once had (taking naps, in the middle of the day, on weekends :-) )

My older brother speaks frequently an in very religious terms about the "blessings" of having his daughter and how he and his wife are trying frequently to make another baby (ugh! why does he say such things! please keep me out of your bedroom, brother! LOL) But his religious words always sound hollow and fake to me... like the point is not really that he likes having a child, but that he's searching for yet another passive-aggressively avenue to communicate his disdain for my gay marriage. Somehow, in the rare moments when I envy a person who has children, it has NEVER been in a moment when I'm talking to my brother :-)

I don't know if or when we will have children. C would like to adopt soon. I am open to this, but if given my druthers I think I would prefer to live life without raising children. I have mixed feelings about why this is so... and mixed feelings that I probably need to seek some counseling about this conviction before we ever adopt.

..but until that time, the fact that I am increasingly alone among my peers in the since of not having children remains a sense of... blessing to me, to borrow my brother's religious word. Hmm. :-)

Miss you. I keep checking the weather and seeing the 101 and 103 temperatures (not counting the heat index) in your area... sounds brutal! Please stay cool :-)

Amanda said...

Thanks for the comment, Joe. I'm sure you and C will make the right decision about children - assuming when you actually get to live together instead of so far apart. I'm sure you hear this a lot - but you'll both make great Dads, if that's what you decide.

Miss you, too. Let me know when you guys are in Texas next - though for your sake, I hope you skip this crazy heat. I think today marks 14 consecutive days above 100. it's hot. *hugs*