Today, my daughter turned 20. I know it's ridiculous, but I'm always a bit melancholy on my daughter's birthday. My excuse this year and last year is/was that she is/was away from home at college. But we celebrated while she was here for Thanksgiving break, and I've been in contact with her steadily since last night.
I don't mind my daughter's getting older. I don't even mind the reminder that her getting older means I'm really getting older. I love who she is becoming, adore who she was, can't wait to meet the new Girl who will come home for Christmas break in two weeks.
When I examine the "why" of the melancholy, its source, I know it has to do with my mother, more specifically with my mother's death, with her absence from my life.
Here's a tangent, though, related to birth. A dear poet friend had her twins this morning. They were full term at 38 weeks, and I have no idea how her tiny body housed these giant boys because they are GIANT. Everyone is healthy and happy, and she and her husband, she said, spent all morning staring at them and holding them.
I was "stalking" this friend online throughout the night because I knew she had schedule a C-section for this morning, but I thought she might go into labor before the surgery hit. She did not.
All night I dreamed about her babies, about her, about her house filling up with people, mostly, of course, people I know since she is a friend in another state and I know her through school and not as a neighbor. In the dream, her boys were bigger than newborns, and I joked that they must have gained some "traction" and knowledge during that extra time they had to be cradled in my friend's body. During the dream, they escaped their bassinets and learned to walk and started to sing.
And all the adults multiplied, the house grew more and more crowded. Some of the women cooked and baked. Two old friends of mine who are about 15 years my senior were with me in the kitchen, ordering me about, telling me I wasn't peeling the carrots properly, that I needed to wash the roasting pan twice.
My mother stood next to me. Small and smiling, shaking her head at these women. She took the carrots from one of my friends' hands and shook off the water then started peeling them backwards, pulling the blade of the paring knife toward her the way I remember she peeled potatoes.
It occurs to me as I'm typing this (directly into the window so I can't not post it later) that my friend's sons met my mother in my dream. My mother died a year before my daughter was born, so my daughter only got to meet my mother's headstone. But these tiny boys (who are actually GIANT babies) in my dream had a glimpse.
Not that my mother was ever particularly small or quiet. But the essence of my mother was there, peeling carrots and smiling.