1992: Late one night, when Cal arrives home from a business trip, he comes into the bedroom holding a scrap of paper. “You have to get this book,” he says, handing me the paper. “I heard her on NPR.” On the paper, Pam Houston, Cowboys Are My Weakness. In the spring, it’s chicken pox. First Bobby, then Jack. Four weeks of confinement. And Jack has them e v e r y w h e r e. We watch the VCR so continuously it breaks, and I call Circuit City and beg them to deliver and install. And the guy does. Kathleen gets braces. And yet. We think we might want one more… In June I head back to France with Kathleen and my parents and brother. This time, I get to play tour guide, which I enjoy. My sister and her family are living in England and they join us. Bobby starts kindergarten. Kathleen starts sixth grade. It’s pirate birthday parties. And yes, I’m pregnant again. In the annual Christmas card picture, Bobby wears his Flash pjs and Jack, Robin. I buy the 10,000 Maniacs MTV Unplugged video. Over and over at night, after the kids go to bed, Cal and I watch Natalie Merchant twirl and twirl, but my favorite part is Natalie singing at the end with David Byrne–Let the Mystery Be…
Despite the shoulder pads, THAT is a glamorous photo! Looks like you’re approaching reporters for a quick press conference.
Given that I never wanted children, it’s hard for me to respond to “just one more” in any meaningful way, but I can point out that although like any mother you grew increasingly wishful for free time as your youngest got closer to college age, you’ve always talked lovingly about your children and your mothering, so it’s pretty clear it was a great decision. I hope one thing you’re noticing as you move through these posts is how much you’ve always taken control of your life, even when you were an ADOLESCENT (which still wows me) and even when sometimes your choice meant promising away more of your time and independence than was ideal at the time. You’re a role model, my friend, like it or not.
Oh, and lookey, you hit another curvy, sweet age with this post. The numbers just get prettier and prettier….
Claire, you write the best comments. Thank you! One thing I noticed with these posts is that I have ALWAYS loved to travel and ALWAYS loved/needed time to myself. That wanting time to myself is not so much a reaction to anything as it is something I was born with.
Ha, thanks, but it’s your work inspiring those comments! You’re right, needing alone time is something that’s just part of some people’s makeup. I had no idea whatsoever that I needed it myself until I met Pat and he taught me what that looks like. I was stunned to discover how much I need it, how much it de-stresses me to have to please no one but myself in a given stretch of time. I’m still sort of stunned by that, b/c it wasn’t something acknowledged as even possible growing up. Thank goodness I found my Pat (for so, so, so many reasons). And yes, travel is probably your biggest through-line, here. I love reading about it.