Friday, May 06, 2005

Return of the Interview Game! Question 3!

Many, many weeks ago, I asked Suzanne to tag me in the Interview Game, and she very obligingly and wonderfully did, and I got my 5 questions, two of which I proceeded to answer in so much detail that I was sure she'd be sorry she asked and everyone else would be too scared to ever ask me anything again.

Then I got distracted and forgot to answer the other three questions.

But now I'm back! I remembered! And by golly, I will answer those questions! Because they are just about the best questions anyone's ever asked me. (Except when RW asked me to marry her, that was pretty nice. And when Mermaid Girl asked me tonight in the car if I would like one of her corn chips. That was good too. But aside from those. And maybe one or two others.)

Links to previous Interivew Game posts:
Interview Game Introduction and Question 1: How I Became a Bunhead
Question 2, part 1: The Great Coming-Out Saga Begins
Question 2, part 2
Question 2, Part 3
Question 2, Part 4: After Much Verbiage, The Great Coming-Out Saga Ends

And so, after only a month or so of delay, I bring you:

Question 3. If there was one thing you could guarantee in life for your daughter, what would it be and why?

The truth is, I didn't forget about the Interview Game. It's just that this question is hard. Telling my coming-out story, complete with tiny violins, was a walk in the park compared to answering this one.

It feels like one of those trick fairy-godmother wishes. Like, if I wish for happiness for her, what if she ends up being sort of shallow and easily satisfied and never finding any kind of deeper meaning in her life? And if I wish that I could guarantee that she'll find a true calling, what if she does that but she's otherwise lonely and miserable?

Or how about love? I could wish that she'll find love, and be able to love and be loved. That's pretty safe. But somehow...I don't know. I wouldn't want her to not have that, but it doesn't seem like enough to base a whole life on. I picture her sitting with her love, gazing into her love's face, and he/she is gazing into grown-up MG's face, and boy are they in love love love, forever, and...well, she could be happy but boring. I don't want her to have a boring life, however love-smitten.

On the other hand, wishing above all else that I could guarantee her an interesting life seems like a very bad idea indeed. You can just imagine.

It's just as well that I became a librarian and not a fairy godmother. All those princesses would be collecting Social Security before I stopped dithering and ponied up with the christening gifts.

What came to mind, way back in the past when I was answering Question 2, was this: I want Mermaid Girl to feel like her life counts. All of it. Not in some scary "this will all go on your permanent record" way, which is how I always felt when any adult tried to convey this wish to me as a Young Person, but more like: it's all a gift, all of her life, every moment. It's a gift to her, and a gift she gets to give back to the universe. It's not a gift she has to wait to unwrap until some specified time: when she gets to college, or gets out of college, or finds a Real Job, or buys a house, or whatever. And it's not a gift that expires when she turns thirty or forty or has a child. It's all real, it all counts, no one gets to tell her what it is, or isn't.

Today we went over to meet RW after ballet class, and we were all driving to dinner, and I said something jokingly about Mermaid Girl going to college, and she said, casually but firmly, "I'm not going to college."

"Oh!" I said. "So, what are you going to do, then?" I think I had some dopey idea of lecturing her, whatever she answered, about how going to college would either be necessary or would help her in her stated goal of being a police officer or an astronaut or a dancer or an Olympic judge (all career goals she's espoused at one time or another).

"Whatever comes next," she said. "I'm just going to go right to that."

I want her to be able to do that, whether she goes to college or not. I want her to go right to whatever comes next, and live it right then, and not always be waiting for it to end so real life can start, or wishing she were still doing the last thing because that's when her real life was, only she hadn't realized it.

Of course I want other things for her too: I want her to have compassion, and to be kind, and to be able to be a real friend and to have good and true friends, and to make a difference in the world, and to respect differences and find commonalities, and to express herself, and to be happy in her body, and to love reading, and music, and to be connected to her families' past, and to love cities, and okay, nature too, and to never know hunger or scary poverty, and to learn from her mistakes and move on.

I want her to know how to apologize to a friend and how to stand up to an enemy. I want her to know how to ask for a raise and when to quit a job. I want her to have community, and work she loves, and a lover who loves her for who she is. I want her to know wonder and joy and even sorrow, and not to shrink from those things. I want her to be able to laugh, like her Biblical namesake; long and hard and with great silliness. I want her to be able to do things she's scared of. I want her to live a long, healthy life. I want her to have a child, or children, if she wants them, and to find the joy in them that I've found in her.

And more, of course, more than I could ever put down here.

But I think if she feels like her life counts, like her now counts, she can have many or even most of those.

And if she would continue to share her corn chips with me, that would be a fine thing too.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was sitting outside on my porch swing today, holding Ella and thinking about these things. My mother has been here for seven weeks and left this morning, and I was thinking about the amount of worrying I do, the amount, frankly, of pain I'm in a lot of the time. I get tired, I get bogged down, and I don't enjoy my life. And I was thinking that my mother just has to let go and let me be unhappy--and let my brother, who has had a rather difficult life, be unhappy as well. And I will have to do that for Ella as well, although at the moment I was thinking these things, I was also thinking how happy she is to just sit in my lap in the swing and look at things, even when I am reading and not looking at them with her. And surely my mother, both when I was a baby and now, wanted most of all for me to, as you say, feel like my now counts. To be a daughter and a mother is the saddest thing in the world some days.


4:48 PM  

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