Sunday, March 7, 2010

"The heart and the soul which was what my mom did, that was her role, she was there for the unconditional love and it worked for my family."

I remember the moment clearly.

I was sitting in the parking lot, smack in between Ross and Babies R Us, the baby sleeping in the back seat and me sitting sleepily in the front. We were waiting for M to meet up with us. I watched two older-than-me women tote their purchases in a Ross cart and load them into a mini van. Something about the way they were – childless, middle-aged, independent, efficient – brought to mind the phrase “I’m my own woman.”

“My own woman”, I thought. Hmmmm.

Only, I’m not.

In this enigmatic, microcosmic existence I live, I am not my own woman. I’m M’s wife and C’s mom. I’m J’s assistant. I’m A’s daughter and M/T/J’s sister.

I’ve always thought of myself as self-aware, one of those people who carry an air of self-possession, immersed in my being from my head to my toes to my very fingertips, but I am not my own. Pieces of me are enmeshed in those identities outside of myself and those pieces that are enveloped into the hearts of other human beings no longer belong to me.

The other day, I was standing alone in my kitchen and thought of Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”, then I thought how curious a thought that was since it’s been years since I read it.

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”

Those are the first lines of that poem.

And it is a wonderful thing to not belong to yourself, not to be an island unto yourself, to have pieces of yourself farmed out to your husband, your children, your family, close friends. It is a wonderful thing to be M’s wife and C’s mom, to be daughter/in law, sister, friend.

[Title quote is from "Best in Show"]

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