The Little One in the form of an Owl...(but don't tell her I said that!)

February 22, 2012

We do not Choose the Families we Have NOR the Families we Make

        We went to the mall on Saturday.  I feel so restless with this anemia shit; I haven't been anemic in years and I forgot how....insidious it can be.  I talked of biorhythms with regards to my Cycling/Spiraling theory, but really, I tend to turn every experience I have into a bout of psychoanalytic, intellectual introspection: "I have no thoughts, I just need quiet and grey (?)" It's not always mental Lady! Did a bit of research, turns out these are all Grade A symptoms of anemia (including the heart palpitations I mistook for anxiety over possible past, present, and future failures). My particular kind of anemia-there's like a BUNCH with obnoxious names all with different causes but similar symptoms (the one caused by heavy prolonged drinking did lead to some serious anxiety re: past/present/future-bah!)-but I'm pretty sure, my particular kind of anemia is due to the malaria meds I had to take last month and a change of diet that is now absent of leafy greens (I do not cook leafy greens, alas....)
         Well, good to know; there's something else to blame in my body other than my mind for once (stupid blood) but since I am now so out of it physically I have nothing to do but think, let the introspection begin continue...
         The mall idea was with the hopes of finding some really good vitamins till mama returns with the hard stuff (check!), but also to give Ms. V an outing.  But all the while I was just so TIRED, and it bothered me that she should have to make do with a tired mama. It also made me realize how attached she is, not just to me, but to my every single movement.  I watched other children her age and younger play around but she clung to my each and every step and breath, mirroring them with her own.  If I didn't find something interesting, neither did (could) she. When I finally begged to sit down, children played and looked and moved around us-she looked with her eyes, but her body stayed right next to me; so close, as if she wanted (needed) to know if even the hairs on my arms moved, so hers could do likewise.
         I struggled with being frustrated by this, by trying to will her independence, because the fact is: just as I'm getting the hang of this, just as I'm getting accustomed to that attachment, she will be an adolescent, and her previously suppressed autonomy will burst forth, probably with fierce expression. I will shudder to think how I once lamented that all I have to do sometimes to get her to keep still is hold my breath.
         At night, I watched her play with a toy I found for her and I thought about families; I thought about my own and the one I'm creating.  One of the noticeable differences with other people in the mall and us, was they were all families with siblings, and we are just a pair.  This is beyond rare in Africa; it is so freakish that the waitresses where we lunched couldn't help but interrogate us throughout the meal with smiles of suspicion (a total of 3 different women at least 8 different times came and asked probing, personal questions we were forced to mumble awkward answers to through half chewed bites of chicken*); it must have killed their minds to wonder how we came to exist-a question I couldn't really answer.  Coming from a family of six, I had heard of only children, but what that must have actually looked like was beyond my imagination-sorta like Pluto maybe?
          Later she told me of a dream she had where her doll turned into a baby, and we adopted her and gave her a new name, and she was ours (but I refused to breastfeed-ha!). Oh poor Little One, she wants a family so badly (liking freakin Penny or Annie) but all she's got is me; no amusing characters seem to be coming forth to fill in the blanks.

        I do think about my future children and how easy they will have it compared to her: there is no way I will be able to exert this much demand and training on a future child, especially one I've raised from birth. I will have learnt some and given up some; but Ms. V must take the brunt of that learning.
         But it is give and take: when we do evolve into a "proper" family, I will be distracted by a husband (!), a potentially unruly adolescent, and other Life things; my future child will not get the benefit (?) of the intense and sacred study I give to Vannesa. I know her; I know her by a twitch of her shapely eyebrows, a hand movement, a pull of her mouth that even she doesn't know is happening, a change in her voice. And I usually know what's causing the shift (physical, emotional, circumstantial) and in which direction (negative/positive). Of course I encourage her, sometimes push her to articulate her needs and feelings for herself. Sometimes I let her in on my knowing-power and she looks at me like I'm magical. That's a special thing, to be known so intimately; being the third child, I can attest to an awareness of the absence of such Knowing in my upbringing; I still long for my mother to know me and I am perplexed by how much she does not.  But that's just it: I was the third child and Life's distractions were a bit more....demanding during my childhood.

        People always mention how I was my mothers "purse" because I was always attached to her (I like to joke I now live in her purse, and then I cry inside) but my memories of her are of absence and longing. I clung to her because she was always disappearing; I still do; she still does.
         People also remember me as the epitome of the incorrigible, in-suppressible, fully expressed, egocentric monster: "I want what I want when I want it"; I threw horrifying tantrums of such grandiose proportions, I would have undoubtedly been severely medicated had I been raised in today's America.  My sister is the first born and I think she took the brunt of my unimaginably young mother's parental learning, much like the Little One (except my sister had the benefit of a sibling who came just after her and was the obedient and willing follower to her adventures). She resents me terribly for my insisted recognition of Self. She doesn't get that it's give and take:
         When my siblings were younger they lived in a country and culture they knew and felt safe in; they had two mostly functioning parents, friends that looked like them and thought they were normal, RELATIVES, activities....they had a family.  By the time I was old enough to remember we lived in isolated seclusion within and without our home; our house was a place of fear and loneliness and absence (Lord, it would be terribly pathetic to try and paint my childhood so mono-chromatically, but I'm try to make a point, there was a very real distinction from before and after the big move) There was a suppressed and congested dysfunction (confusion? trauma?) that filled our home like a cloud; everything I saw was perceived through that thick and weightless presence (that part is true, totally true, that's what so pathetic about all the good memories).
          I think of my mother choosing my father though the implication of darkness was present even before her first child; I think how she would do it again, and again, and again....But of course it was not as she intended; she did not intend on a family broken and shut down, on moments and memories of having to escape in bare feet and having to choose between younger and youngest who would escape with her (I was younger, and so it goes....), and of all the effects and results (there are good and bad damn it, this is a story NOT a fairy tale) of that family we had.

           I think of my future children, of my future adolescent, and I wonder how long it will take before she realizes that whatever place we are in, it will not have been by intention- well, certainly not mine. If she questions-if there are uncomfortable repercussions and she demands to know what I was thinking taking this on, cleaving her into my life, I will answer: It was not a thought or conception of the future, I just chose you because, in that moment, it made sense....

           And I would do it again, and again, and again.....

No comments:

Post a Comment