Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Motherhood: makes you old, keeps you young

I exchanged emails with Mary Castillo yesterday, chatting about our upcoming blog tour and her little boy, who is in mid-toddlerhood. Three is the absolute most adorable age for children. They’re over the “no’s” of two year olds and haven’t hit the “why” stage of age four (Why do birds fly, Mami? Why is the sky blue? Why is there dirt? Why can’t I eat worms? Why do crayons color? – just a taste for you who might not have gotten there yet).

I should tell you that I think all ages are adorable. Even my cranky teen daughter is cute. Okay, so she’s slovenly and plays Guitar Hero more than she does homework and spends too much time online chatting with her friends and zero time chatting with me and she swipes my eyeliner even though she has her own. But the other day at the bookstore she came running up with a book and said that if she didn’t get to read it she would die. Right there in front of everyone, die. It was The Birth House. Ami McKay's novel about midwives at the beginning of the 20th century. She read it in two days. Two days in which she lay on the couch with a cat on her stomach and her feet in the air, totally engrossed. She's passionate about civil rights, and the rights of the homeless. She loves opera, mostly Donizetti and Mozart, as well as The Toy Dolls and other punk bands that I won't list because I'll probably get them wrong ("Mom, it's JOHN who likes Flogging Molly!"). She swoons over hotties and is committed to perfecting the cinnamon sugar cookie. I remember these things when the dogs go unfed, the dishes unwashed, and I notice the three-inch debris pile in her bedroom.

Shepherding her into adulthood, and her three older brothers before her, has aged me (I know that one little crease between my eyes should be signed by the miscreant who caused it.), but I've also been in the forefront of teen life for seven years or so. I know, and for the life of me don't understand why I care, about the latest fashions, music, cliques at school. What do the skaters wear, and what do they listen to? It's changed from 2001 to today. Same for the goths, the emos, the preps, the jocks. Do people grow old when the young ones in the house leave? Do they lose their conduit to youth? I'll find out in five years when she hits college. After that, I'll always have the Cartoon Network and Adult Swim.

I read somewhere that animals' young are big-eyed, fluffy and cute as a defense mechanism so that adults don't kill them. There's a serious flaw in that thinking (snakes, for example, and biological imperatives), but it works for kids.


Arwen said...

Shepherding our children into adulthood does age us, but it is a conduit to youth. My friends, who are my age, but without teens are confused by anime and manga. I have to tell them which is which.
It impresses them I'm in the know. However, I don't think there's enough botox to smooth out the wrinkle between my two furrowing eyebrows.