Thursday, September 28, 2006

Of Torches and Stone Fruit

Because I have been so sick lately, my parents have been coming over a lot to help me do things like wash clothing, cook dinner, carry heavy bags and packages, drive to the store, eat, and walk from one room to another. For the uninitiated, my parents are kindly, loving, generous to a fault, self-sacrificing, and, well, intense. There are no activities that are even colorably dangerous or independent for me when they are around. The irony of their procreating daughter becoming childlike again is not lost on any of us. For me (and I'm sure for them, too), it's a flood of emotions. Gratitude for their overwhelming generosity and very necessary help. Anger that I often suddenly don't feel well enough to fold my own underwear, even when I was rearranging shelves fifteen minutes earlier. Self-doubt, because it didn't even occur to me that my underwear needed to be folded until my mother brought it to my attention. Frustration at trying to excuse myself to perform my daily injection in private while knowing that there are people in the apartment for whom the idea of their baby girl getting stuck by a needle is extremely upsetting, even when she's nearly thirty years old and is sticking the needle in her flesh herself. Guilt at having them rearrange their schedules so that they can help me boil water for tea while I act exasperated. It's hard to be an adult who is dependent on one's parents.

And then, there's the advice. Naturally, pregnant women receive tons of advice; there is nothing unusual about that. I have been forbidden to attend certain events when it might rain, encouraged to take certain routes and not others as I walk around my neighborhood, and prohibited from eating spinach. Extraordinary quantities of vitamins have been purchased on my behalf, and handed to me. Advice is hard for me to take sometimes, because I'm both stubborn and a know-it-all. But, also, because I generally make good decisions.

I think that, as a parent, I will really need to learn to hold my ground. It won't always be easy. I love my parents more than you can imagine. I love that they are so excited about their grandchildren that they have already procured Old MacDonald Had a Farm finger puppets for their future grandchildren. TWO SETS, EACH ONE WITH DIFFERENT ATTRIBUTES, MADE BY A DIFFERENT MANUFACTURER. BOTH PROCURED BEFORE WE KNEW WE WERE HAVING TWINS. Not to mention multiple bottles of baby detergent. I love that my parents will be there for our children to complain to when they are mad at us, or decide that they hate us. Most importantly, I love that they are competent, nurturing, loving people who will take care of my children if something happens to my husband and me. But I also know that it's okay that I haven't yet decided whether to use a bassinet or a crib or what, and that I haven't yet fully worked out the details of which school the children might attend when they are ready for junior high. I don't have to parent at their pace. I have to parent at mine. And my way is good, too.

Yesterday, my parents stayed later than they normally would so that I could stay later at a meeting and then they could drive me home. As I was getting out of the car, my father announced that they had a present for me, opened the trunk, and looked knowingly at my mother, who smiled. I braced myself for an onslaught of sugar-cube-sized-calcium-with-triple-vitamin-D-and-spinach-free-iron supplements, or a massive piece of baby furniture, or a case of diapers. Instead, he sifted very carefully through a bag until he found what he was looking for. From my vantage point, it looked like he was cradling a baby chick.

When his hands entered my field of vision, I realized what he was holding: a single peach.

"This is an especially delicious peach," he announced.

"It's the best," my mom concurred. "Eat it with a piece of good cheese."

"Share it with your husband."

It was an especially delicious peach. And I did share it with my husband. I sliced it up, the way my mother taught me long ago, and we ate it. Probably just as my parents had shared its companion peaches the night before.

Ultimately, all of their presents are designed to nourish me. And they've done a really good job. I can take their gifts, and, with them, I can nourish myself. And the children within me.

12 Comments:

Anonymous wordgirl said...

What a sweet moment you've just shared. Thank you.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Mignon said...

It reminds me of a Chinese fable that I've completely forgotten, but something about a poor child offering a peach to an emperor and being ridiculed, and then praised for the quality of the gift. Sounds like an ancient Chinese secret, doesn't it? Anyway, your story was true, and thus so much more beautiful than the one I forgot and may have just completely made up...

I'm so glad your mom and dad are there, making this pregnancy more bearable. Those are going to be two lucky little grandbabies.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

It reminds me of a Chinese fable that I've completely forgotten, but something about a poor child offering a peach to an emperor and being ridiculed, and then praised for the quality of the gift. Sounds like an ancient Chinese secret, doesn't it? Anyway, your story was true, and thus so much more beautiful than the one I forgot and may have just completely made up...

I'm so glad your mom and dad are there, making this pregnancy more bearable. Those are going to be two lucky little grandbabies.

4:14 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

I've only been trying to comment a bazillion times today - I'm lucky there's just one repeat.

4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so happy for you to feel so loved and cherished and to know that your children will grow up feeling that too!

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Your parents sound like amazing people, and you and the babies are so lucky to have them in your lives. Enjoy the pampering and the attention, and all of their delicious and thoughtful gifts!

5:18 PM  
Anonymous TB said...

Your children will be so blessed to have wonderful parents AND grandparents.

8:03 PM  
Blogger mamalujo1 said...

I miss my daddy. That was awesome.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

This post was so touching! I can only hope my parents will be as helpful and encouraging someday. The gift of a peach... perfect for someone with such a delicate stomach/condition.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Tits McGee said...

Okay, I totally just teared up reading that. How absolutely beautiful.

I love my parents in a whole new way since becoming a parent myself.

12:36 AM  
Blogger V-Grrrl said...

Oh, you made me cry.

Desperately seeking someone to nurture me....

5:56 AM  
Anonymous Heidi said...

There's nothing like having your mom and dad around to take care of you.

Somehow they always know when you need a peach!

8:34 AM  

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