“In theory these momentos serve to bring back the moment.
In fact they serve only to make clear how inadequately I appreciated the moment when it was here.
How inadequately I appreciated the moment when it was here is something else I could never afford to see.”
Joan Didion wrote this memoir after her daughter’s death.
Her words are searing, hard to swallow all in one bite; rich with the dark wisdom of a grieving mother.
Which I am not. But could be. We all could.
Now, it’s no secret that my husband and I were teen parents, but it’s also something I don’t normally like to say out loud. There is a certain degree of shame attached to that label. And despite the ancient knowledge deep in our bones that tells us we really don’t have to, there comes with that role a constant urge to validate two imperative points:
*I love my child more than the life I might have had.
*I know what you’re thinking and I’m here to prove you wrong.
We started off hopeful, he and I, but also irresponsible and selfish. In fact, we probably have a few friends who are reading this right now and can attest to that. But please don’t. No, really. Don’t.
Once we picked up momentum, though, we didn’t stop. We were keenly aware of the many lessons only time and experience could teach us, and in order to be ready to prepare our child for the world, we believed we had to throw ourselves into the deep end of it. And that’s all fine and good until you forget to come up for air.
I realize now that I don’t want to be the woman who can hold her breath underwater for long stretches of time.
In theory these momentos serve to bring back the moment.
I realize now that I don’t want to be the woman who did everything she was supposed to do, but nothing that mattered.
In fact they only serve to make clear how inadequately I appreciated the moment…
That wasn’t a testament of my strength. That was evidence of my mistrust and lack of faith.
…something else I could never afford to see.
I thought I knew what gratitude was.
But now I think I’m finally beginning to understand.