Tuesday, March 30, 2010

There's something in my eye (or how I became a big baby)

I used to be a cold-hearted bitch. Nothing could get to me. Not a Hallmark or reach-out-and-touch-someone commercial. Not a sappy movie. Certainly not anything anyone else could do to me. Nothing. I was bulletproof.

Then I had a baby. And damned if that didn't turn me into one big, post-natal, totally wimpy baby.

I was sitting in the recliner in my mother's basement one afternoon, nursing Savannah and watching PBS. There was a show on about a mama lion and her adorable, little lion cubs. They were romping and rolling about--just like kittens--when their whole world (and my momentary, new-mother bliss) was shattered. They were attacked by a cobra and the cubs were just too tiny to survive. I sat there clinging to my own precious cub and sobbing as the mother lion nudged and licked and nuzzled her lost babies.

And--17 years later--it hasn't stopped. It's gotten worse.

How does a (fairly) normal person become someone who is reduced to a slobbering mess at the sight of their offspring smiling, walking, going to kindergarten, singing in the school program, performing in the Christmas pageant, playing their viola, getting their first byline or dancing on stage in their first musical?

Tonite was the opening nite of Gabi's school musical: "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." The minute I glimpsed her cavorting on stage my chest felt tight, my throat closed and my vision blurred with tears of pride and love and amazement.

And it didn't stop there.

I saw Taylor and Brittney (longtime friends of Gabi) and the little, red-haired boy performing so earnestly--and the kid playing Joseph working so hard and singing his heart out. I teared up at the sight of all of them.

This happens every time. I am overwhelmed with pride and encouragement at the chutzpah and passion of these kids putting it all out there because they are young and bright-eyed and still believe that they can do anything--even make it all the way to Broadway or Hollywood.

I used to be one of them. I was fearless. I can still feel what it was like. And I wonder if my strong response to the brave acts of faith I witness in my children is not only in celebration of them, but also (on some level) mourning...or longing...for that fresh, potential-filled person I still remember.

Or maybe it's a simultaneous exultation of their limitless, blank-slate dreams and the reluctant hint of sadness that life may not give them everything they think it will.

But tonite--and for the next three nites--Gabi and her merry band of Canaanites and Wranglers, Brothers and Wives, are jumping in with both feet and jazz hands. The view from my seat is dazzling, if a little blurry. I must have something in my eye.

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