When I was a kid I wasn’t a kid. While other girls my age were gliding on skates under the disco ball to Le Freak, their plastic yellow Goody combs in their back pockets, their Sour Grape Lip Smacker slathered on their pre-teen lips, I pressed myself against the wall of the hallway to spy on my mother, whose status as my childhood hero surpassed Wonder Woman by seven skyscrapers high. She’d settle in her gold velvet chair in our living room, take a single long sip of her Tab soda, and lean forward to hear the anguished young couple’s tale of infertility and subsequent plea for help, as if she’d never heard it before.
From my vantage point in the hallway, I could see my mother’s right profile, her short platinum blonde hair swept back like Blue Bonnet margarine waves against her confident head, her hazel eye laser focused on her guests, her mouth fastened shut, and her perfect seashell ear, adorned with a clipped hoop earring, listening for everything.
Awake and behind me in their bedroom cribs were four babies from Mexico with more on the way, my mom’s and mine as I considered them, and my sole intent was to keep them quiet and happy until the end of the live living room show. To the end when this childless couple now fastened to our chartreuse loveseat, would stand at last and embrace my mother as if she were a genie in a bottle granting their deepest wish.
The story and events that followed this scene would put our lives under an intense microscope of national and international scrutiny, get us publicly disowned by our extended family, run us out of our small conservative farming town into the mountains, and drain our financial, physical, and emotional bank accounts for years to come.
Because of this, when I was a kid I wasn’t a kid, and I didn’t become a kid for a few more decades. And while I must now be a grown-up, I sometimes just want to be a child and play. I want vintage Avon lipgloss, and a pink fur beanbag for read-a-thons, and my own pair of gaucho boots. The ones about which I rolled my eyes, telling my mom that I refused to wear anything in style, just because it was in style. Ha. The ones girls wore with their their Jordache denim culottes, bouncing around the cakewalk circle with smiles of childhood during recess, as I stood aside with what felt like the weight of a station wagon at my back.
The funny thing was, I kinda liked all that weight back then. I thought it impressed my superstar mother, and because of it, I would spend many years keeping up that charade until finally giving it up.
Our local roller skating rink finally shut down for good, but not after happy birthday parties there with my girls, and me, skating in my peasant skirt around and around the rink, the air whipping my hair, my legs aching with bliss until the lights went low.
Be blessed, be happy, and love the gift of your life.