Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Eyes Like Mine

* May 2007 *

The bell rang and within moments the sound of scooting desks, broken chatter and hallway traffic filled the room. Lunch.

I could see her approach my desk as I shuffled homework papers around into various nonsensical piles. Organized chaos at its best.

"Mrs. L? Can I talk to you about something?" I remember how this piece of hair would hang in her eyes, how she would nervously pull it back over and over again. I wanted so much to give her a clip or something to make it stop falling. It distracted me.

But this time, it didn't. I just wanted to reach out and pull the piece back for her. Do something for her. I had no idea why.

She sat down in the over sized office chair, the one I confiscated from the Dumpster and tried to upholster with frayed denim scraps. The one that smelled of hairy wet dog when the first hint of summer entered the room. But the students loved that chair. Loved how it would rock back, the headrest practically touching the floor, and then lurch forward without warning. They fed on the rush of near death by office chair, I supposed.

I took a seat in the tiny chair with foam padding and scratched plastic arms. We sat for a moment in silence in the small space between my two mismatched desks, piles of paper and the planning that I would never get to that day or the next.

Our knees touched as she leaned forward to whisper her secret.

"So, I'm going to have a baby," she bit back her lips as her eyes peeked through her lashes. Cautious. Hopeful.

Why was she telling me? The students and I, we got along. We had established mutual respect. But, I was not their BFF, their mother, their counselor. I was not the warm and fuzzy teacher with cute drawings and tiny squeak toys on my desk (OK, I was, but it was because they made me laugh). I wasn't the one who hugged to comfort, gently touched hands in encouragement or patted heads in recognition.

"My mom knows. And, I'm keeping it" she said. I hoped she didn't hear the escaping sigh as it limped from my chest. She wasn't looking to me to make decisions for her. This talk had nothing to do with who knows what or what to do with the little life inside her.

She was 16. Her hair fell to her shoulders, hiding the tiny tears in the seam of her t-shirt. Her hands, motionless, rested in her lap. I pictured those hands as that of a child, flawless, chubby. Fat crayons. White paper. Dreams filled with color. Dreams left unfulfilled.

She didn't look at me, but I could see her chin tighten, tiny little dimples awaiting a cry.

I did something I never do. I reached for her, my hands resting on hers.

"How did this happen?" I asked her, not realizing the absurdity of such a question.

A smile curled around her cheek. Crooked. Knowing. "Well, Mrs. L, " she looked at my swollen belly, "I think you know."

Oh, yeah. A halfhearted attempt to suppress a giggle. Screw it . . . my brain cells decided to take leave and wander off the premises. Excellent timing.

"I don't want her to be like me." And there it was. The sobs came fast. She buried her head in my shoulder, her tears wetting my maternity top. Me, soaking in a cruel not-yet-realized irony.

In only moments, between heaving breaths, she let her fears form a puddle in her hands. Her mother had her at 15, never finished school, never married, never held down a job, had no clue what to do with her baby daughter. And now, the daughter, seeing her future in her mother's history. Her hands, tight-fisted, rested on the top of her tiny belly.

"My grandmother. My mother. Me. We're so messed up, Mrs. L. So messed up." I closed my eyes, images of my own mother. My own grandmother. The histories that collided with regret and guilt. The histories that shaped my life.

I understood. The baby boy in my own belly moved. A reminder.

"You are not your mother. You are not your grandmother. You are you." Silly little platitudes, as if sewn on a cloth and framed on a wall or written in pink on a cue card.

She deserved more than this. I closed my mouth and leaned back in my seat. She didn't need words of wisdom. She just needed . . .

"A girl. You are having a baby girl," I said simply with a hint of a smile and a tilt of the head.

"Yes," she smiled and her fists relaxed as she smoothed the t-shirt, following the rounded curve to her lap.

I was not trained for this. No classes. No workshops. No . . .

"You'll love her. With everything you have, you will love her. History doesn't have to be repeated." I reached out again, cradling her hands in mine. She spoke in whispers, sharing stories of her past, the fears that wrestled away her youth, the hopes she had for the tiny heart that beat near her own. I sat. Silent. Listening. Blinking back tears.

I knew the challenges that awaited her, as did she. She didn't need a lecture. She didn't need advice. She just needed me to listen.

She was giving birth to a baby. A baby girl. A baby girl whose future she saw resting within histories that were not her own. Would this baby girl travel down the same path as her mother? Her grandmother and so many of the women before her?

Would she have a chance?

"You will love her . . . "

More tears and more whispers passed between us before she said goodbye. I had only a few minutes left for lunch. But I wasn't hungry. Instead, I leaned back in the denim-patched chair and thought about the baby boy readying himself for the world. My own history, the biting memories, the tender scars, crept in, clouding my reverie. But I pushed back.

I closed my eyes and thought of the future, my hand finding comfort in the warmth of the life that moved beneath it.

* March 2009 *

My foot tapped, rhythmless. I sucked in air as I checked my phone again. What time is it?

What day is it?

My fists clenched. Unclenched. I begged my body to relax. Pleaded with it.

"You're having a girl." I smiled when she said the words even though I knew exactly what she was going to say. Her little body wiggled in fuzzy lines and curves on the screen. A girl.

A mother knows.

I'm going to have a girl. A baby girl.

JR and his daddy had already headed to the car (celebratory donuts in order), carrying the news with them. I was left, waiting. A doctor to see, an exam to be performed, a heartbeat to hear.

I was alone in a room full of expectant moms. The chatter was deafening. Joy bounced around the room (aided by the energy of anticipation and a healthy dose of fear).

I'm so happy.

But I can't breath. The smile, fading.

The endless questions, the brazen fears, the unruly angst paraded around in my mind, assaulting any small shred of excitement that dared to dwell.

I don't want to wonder if she'll have my frailties. I don't want to wonder if the mistakes of the past will rest with her. I don't want the histories of my mother, my grandmother to be her legacy.

I can hear the loud cacophony of support ringing in my ears . . . Words of encouragement. Words of love. "You'll be OK." "Everything will be fine." "You'll be a great mom!" But these are thoughts that were destined to be mine. I pushed them back for far too long.

But right now, I just want to wonder if she'll be a lover of words. If she'll get lost in her daydreams. If she'll pull apart her Oreo and lick the frosting. If she will paint her toes pink or red. If she'll have her father's lips. If her giggle will sound like JR's. If she'll have eyes like mine.

That's all I want to think about.

That . . . and how I will love her. With everything I have.

54 comments:

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Oh, wow! Congratulations. I got tingly all over--is she saying? I think she's saying . . . That's got to be what she's saying.

Boy will I feel dumb if I'm wrong.

One of the best things about having a daughter is reading her your favorite childhood book.

flutter said...

I am so excited for you, babe!

Mr Lady said...

Damn it, I love you. This may be the best post you've ever written.

You were DEAD FREAKING ON with that girl, you know that? I know that.

She's going to kick ass. I know that, too.

Lisa said...

Congrats!!! A girl will be wonderful. Along with thinking about all the flaws that happened, she will bring about the happy memories as well.

I've been a bad blog friend, but had you put it out there before this that you were prego?

Congrats again!

Karen said...

Love the new look. Super excited for that little girl. And so very happy for you guys. Nothing is better for a little girl than to have a big brother.

Sue said...

Fabulous post and fabulous you!
Congratulations!!!!!

Stacie said...

CONGRATUTLATIONS!!!!

CONGRATULATIONS!!!

yay!

RJTrue said...

Dammit sis!!!

I love you and I can't wait to meet my niece!

You are a fine writer ... and a phenomenal mother.

ConverseMomma said...

You know how I feel. You know. Oh, sweetie. You know!

Woman in a Window said...

oh my dear, i'm shaking and crying. the beauty of this post is so so much. there will be so much in your future, more questions than you can even imagine, and the answers will be full and round. Beautiful, beautiful, you.

Kami said...

I KNEW IT! Well not the girl part but I knew you were expecting. Hee hee!

This was amazing. Amazing. And also? I was 100% sure Jack was a girl. So some of us don't know :)

Congratulations! I am beyond ecstatic for you!

Indigo said...

The woman who sat quietly listening to a young girl speak of her fears, her hopes and dreams for her own little girl...is going to make an awesome, understanding, loving mom to one special little girl. How could she not, it's a little you. (Hugs)Indigo

Burgh Baby said...

Congratulations! I'm so shocked! ;-)

nikki said...

Holy cow, congratulations!

Jennifer said...

wow!! YAY!!!!!!

abritdifferent said...

That has to be one of the best posts I've read it a very long time. Despite the circumstances threaded through it, your words and imagery were beautiful; amazing.

Congrats to you, that's wonderful news.

Momisodes said...

Such a beautiful post. I have to agree with Mr Lady. This maybe your best post ever :)

Congratulations!

And I do remember having this same internal dialog years ago. Right when I found out I was having a girl :)

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

AHHHHHH!!!!! Congratulations!
And your blog? Looks fabulous!
This post is so gorgeous.

Kristen said...

YAY!! Congratulations!!

And like always written in the most beautiful of ways!

I wonder if she will be a writer like her Mama?

And the new blog layout? I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. Who did yours if you don't mind me asking?

MoziEsmé said...

Congrats! Girls are wonderful...

Anglophile Football Fanatic said...

Whew. I love ya, hon. Congrats on the lassie. And, JUST SAY NO to names The Father picks.

justmylife said...

Congratulations. A girl, how wonderful

As a teen mother myself, the words you spoke to the young mother to be were just what she needed.

slouching mom said...

Sigh. What a lovely post. What a lovely you.

Tara R. said...

Happy dance, happy dance... daughters are so stinkin' much fun. Not that boys aren't, I have one of those too. But you can't really put a little boy in pink with ribbons in his hair. You rawk!

Congrat!

Nap Warden said...

OMG!!! Congratulations:)

Tiaras and Tantrums said...

oh yes you shall - and that was so beautiful!

Tiaras and Tantrums said...

ps - love your newness

Kat said...

What a beautiful way to announce your little lady. Just gorgeous.

Of course, you already know what I feel about it. You have learned from your past and you will be the best mother to your daughter.

It is just all so exciting!!!!!!
Congratulations, again! :)

the mama bird diaries said...

Congratulations!

Love the look of your site.

Cheffie-Mom said...

Beautiful, beautiful post. Congratulations!

Pregnantly Plump said...

Congratulations!! Very exciting!

Cat said...

Such good news such a warm post I am soggy eyed- congrats! Congrats!

The Mad White Woman said...

Sweetie, that was the most beautiful post I have ever read. Congratulations...

And blessings to your student as well. We all have the chance to re-write our destiny each and every day...and I can feel a major rewrite coming up for her and her daughter.

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

Well, shoot, you made me cry. You really did, you big ole poopy head!

Congratulations! How did I not know you were pregnant? Did I miss or forget a previous post? Or were you just incredibly good about keeping secrets? Brat.

Congrats!!! So much good news for bloggy friends! Hope you guys stay healthy and that your pregnancy is fabulous!

CC said...

Is this your announcement?? Or did I miss it??? WTH?? I feel so lost and confused.

Congrats x1000. If this IS your announcement, how the heck did you wait so long to leak the news??

The year I taught HS (and my student teaching) I think I had 20+ girls who were already mothers or going to be mothers that year. Very sad. And especially frustrating and heartbreaking when I started dealing with the knowledge that we couldn't get pregnant, and yet all these teens could.

Kellan said...

I'm so excited for you and I just LOVED this post!! You are such a talented writer and I could read your writing all day long!! Congratulations and I'm glad you were there for that sweet girl. I like knowing you have squeaky toys on your desk too - tee hee!

Take care and I'll see you soon - Kellan

melissa said...

i'm so excited for you!! i love this post!!! love it. amazing!!
yay for having a girl.
just, when little girls are around 9 and up...invest in duct tape...for their mouths.
like lisa...i didn't even realize you were pregnant. shame on me!!
i'm soooooo excited for you!!
xo

melissa said...

oh and, btw...
LOVE the new place.

Are You Serious! said...

♥ That was beautifully written! Congrats! :)

Are You Serious! said...

♥ P.S. love the new header! :)

Karen MEG said...

Laski, this, this post, was certainly worth the wait. My heart was in my throat, then on a roller coaster from start to finish.

What an amazing writer, teacher, woman, and mother you are.

And congrats on the wonderful news about baby girl. I am so excited for you!

The blog looks "wow" too!

MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

You KNOW I'm THRILLED for ya girl!

Here's a woot your way!

huddtoo said...

WOW..LOVE the new look!

And..gosh when did I miss that you are PG??? I'm sure amongst my super busy life (I hardly have time to blog lately, but finally put something new out today) I just missed that one. Congratulations!

Welcome back! ;)

LiteralDan said...

This post is extremely well written, nice work. And congratulations-- we have a boy and a girl, and it's worked out great that way. Enjoy the ride!

Lori&Kevin said...

Oh wow! CONGRATS!!!! That post gave me goosebumps!! I know I am so behind on my blogs...lots happening! Love your new look on here - you did great!!
I have moved to a new blog - www.bensoncamp.blogspot.com - be sure to visit!

Cecily R said...

You already know that I am super excited for you...but your post...oh my goodness I STILL have goosebumps. You are such an amazing writer. Truly a master with your words.

Threeboys1mommy said...

OH LASIK GAL, I'M SO HAPPY FOR YOU (and your family)! This post was way better than a picture of urine drops on a pee pee stick ;-)

Congratulations!

Flea said...

Congratulations. Wow. You will love her with everything you have. :)

My daughter is nothing like me. It's taken time to get past that. Not a lover of words. But a lover of music. And life.

You are not your mom. :) You will love her with everything you have.

Steph said...

Congrats I had no idea! I am so happy for you and jealous at the same time because you are due before me! lol

crazymumma said...

You are going to love it. and hate it and love it and hate it and love it and hate it.

and love it the whole entire time.

and that 16 year old? she is not a fuck up. Did I read that piece two years ago? I recognize it....

painted maypole said...

congrats.

and yes, you will love her

tommie said...

Oh wow! Congratulations! I am so excited for you. Little girl clothes are so much fun.

Lindsey said...

Congrats!!!!!!

Lindsey said...

I am truly so very excited for you! I can't believe I took so long reading your posts!

So girls? They are wonderful and quite the handful, but I wouldn't have any other way.

Congrats to you and your family!

BTW, YOU are a phenomenal writer.

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