Monday, May 4, 2009

Not About Me

I spent an afternoon with a six-year-old girl and her grandma, and it was totally fun. We went to a science museum that the little girl loves. I arrived bearing chapter books appropriate for her age – partly at her grandma’s request and partly to endear myself to this girl by masquerading as a cool, fun, spontaneous person. (It’s hit or miss, in reality.)

In public, I inadvertently imagine what other people might think when they look at me, and whoever I’m with. Folks who saw the three of us together probably assumed I was the mother figure in this picture. Seeing myself in this light illuminated a few things for me. One is: I do want kids. Another is: I’m not quite ready. But I’m close.

There was a time when I would have begrudged that beautiful little girl for dragging us around the museum without stopping at half the exhibits that I would have wanted to stop at. That day, I didn’t care. There was a time when I would have been annoyed to have to read stories out loud during lunch to keep her entertained, while my French fries grew cold. There was a time when I would’ve regretted not being able to fully peruse the gift shop for kitchy gadgets, because she was ready to go. None of it bothered me. Curious.

For a while now, my fear about having children has been selfishness – my own. I love my independence, and the ability to come and go as I please and the freedom make sure I’m contented before worrying about anyone else. In some ways, that selfishness is waning. It was actually great to spend a day that was not about ME.

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