Grandma Jackie - Mistress of the Universe
I’ve officially been initiated into the club of mamas who get mistaken for their kid’s grandma! Woohoo!
And I’m fine with it. Really.
Or maybe I’m totally and completely not fine with it. Maybe it’s just another example of how, no matter what stage you are at with your child, from pregnancy to – um, I dunno, when you’re 100 – someone’s always got something to say. Why? Why do people ask invasive questions of others? Or is that too invasive a question? I’m not sure if I’m pissed because I’m vain or because negotiating a world of thoughtless questions that are actually hurtful takes a lot of energy that I don’t seem to have the hutzpah for these days.
Maybe it’s also because it is yet another example of your exposure to others, your vulnerability on earth that having a child exposes you to. It’s overwhelming. No one seemed to notice everything I did and how I moved across the earth until Aya was by my side. Now it’s like I have a puppy and I am the most popular girl at the party. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE when people smile and coo and point and wave and show Aya the kind of affection that will make her feel at home in the world. I just take issue with these invasive comments and questions that get into your head like a terrible earworm and make you crazy like what happened to that dude Wrath of Khan (bonus points if you get this reference).
I’m upset because motherhood has laid me bare in all kinds of ways and has made me question my very existence. Questions like these that come out of nowhere like a punch in the face are destabilizing. Not because they remind me of my mortality or make me worry about the lines on my face but because they demonstrate the extent to which life is this chaotic mess of interactions that you pretend to have control over when you are, in fact, just subject to them. I’m not trying to say something existential about ow we have no control over our lives, or no agency to change them, but rather that having a child, for me anyway, has exposed me to a kind of unknowingness that I have never felt before.
These interactions incite this deep well of fear in me that has something to do with knowing that I know nothing about what will transpire during the course of Aya’s life. Already I have been thrown curveballs of a proportion I had never imagined, and the hits keep coming – not always in such emotionally debilitating ways – but in the knowledge that I will never quite keep up to her ever-changing nature. For the rest of my life, I will have to be responsive and attentive in ways that are taxing and perplexing and I will never quite know if I am doing it right. In a sense, I have been exposed to the uncertainty of life through the certainty of my daughter’s birth.
I suppose this is not the first time I have come up against the reality that my efforts at controlling the universe – even my own micro-universe – are for naught. I think it just stings a little more now. I can’t control Aya or the insane things that people will say to her – or to me in her presence. I cannot control whether she gets sad or angry or glad – I can only be there to comfort her and to celebrate with her. I can’t control the cruelty of other children or adults or the kindness they may or may not show her. I control nothing yet I am her mother.
Am her mother and I vow to equip her with what she needs to handle the shifting ground she walks on. I am her mother and I vow to be by her side. I am her mother and I will take the brunt of people’s thoughtlessness for as long as I can to protect her. I am her mother and I will accept that I cannot change the nature of the universe, but I can and will be brave in the face of what life throws at us.
And I’m not her grandmother for fuck’s sake. Jeesh!