Thursday, June 09, 2016

Other people's babies

In her short essay "The Beginning of Misunderstanding," Rivka Galchen observes:
It's as if babies don't grow larger but instead smaller, at least in our perception.
Babies are all potential. Their acquiring the ability to communicate shatters this illusion of endless possibility. Their personhood is limited and delimited, made concrete. They become someone specific.

Helena is now very much someone specific. This fills me with relief, pride, astonishment, trepidation, and a little sadness. She's a teenager now.

Every so often, I realize she's grown, she's someone different. It's like I meet her anew, and have to reestablish a rapport; I have to get to know her all over again. Obviously, we don't continually restart from zero. But every day she's something more than the day before, and I spend the day identifying what the more is and determining how to deal with it.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Little Labors. The book's beauty is in its juxtapositions: Small things, like the orange snowsuit, nosy neighbours, The Pillow Book, and Lucille Ball's pregnancy. And big things, like women writers and a whole world of maternal anxieties and deeper truths.

Little Labors warped time a little for me, and made me meditative and introspective. Which is, in my view, one of the best things a book can do.


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