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A fool in love

The future is only an arm's length away


I'm a fool. In fact, I'm everything I swore I'd never be. For example, I said I'd never complain about getting older, but it's hard to be a hundred years old and not talk about it. Not that I'm exactly a hundred, but it feels that way when you go to Disney World and see thousands of parents pushing their perfectly healthy adolescent children around in rented plastic rickshaws and you hear yourself say, "When I was a kid, we had it rough! We had to walk with our own feet!"

I mean, seriously, if I ever asked my parents to wheel me around all day like a lazy little emperor, they'd have coughed up 10 years worth of tar and nicotine, they'd have been laughing so hard. I mean, we grew feet for a reason, right? Or are we in the process of devolving back into the blobs we once were? What is the world coming to, with Disney World packed with little imposter invalids? Is this any place to raise children?

There it is again, me being what I swore I wouldn't -- someone freaked about the future. It wasn't that long ago that I couldn't see any further into the future than my mini-mart burrito, which the microwave will finish cooking in about four minutes. I was so happily selfish and completely tunnel-visioned, running through the rain with arms outstretched. I could not have cared less, for example, about the danger of croaking like a lab rat from a mosquito-borne disease like the West Nile virus. Back then I would have glided naked on a skateboard through a festering nest of teeming mosquito larvae if it meant a decent Margarita on the other side.

But not today, no. Because today I've been hit by this comet called momhood, which is just one sack of surprises after another, isn't it? For example, Chris points out that I've bought eight cans of Cutter insect repellant this summer, which he says is excessive. But I'm thinking about the future, see? And what I envision is cans of Cutter everywhere, at least two within arm's reach of any possible position in our household, so we won't even think of walking outside without coating our baby like a little cob of corn. I bought two more cans yesterday, I figure we can use them to physically club each mosquito as well. You can never be too careful.

You can never be too careful? I certainly didn't inherit that from my mother, who once broke her foot hang gliding in Mexico and didn't figure it out for five days. She also once fought off a biker with a broken Hurricane glass in New Orleans (OK, she just brandished it at him as he rode by, but still), and when I was 7 she sent me almost every day to buy her cigarettes from the child-molesting masturbator who owned the liquor store next to my father's favorite bar (when she found out he was a pervert she took her business elsewhere, but still).

So you see? I should have grown up daring, with wild hair and arms outstretched every chance I get. I shouldn't be sitting here right now, a hundred-year-old person who is not a hundred years old. I thought I'd at least be tortured by this time in my life. Tragic. The object of cult fame. Some kind of female Bukowski living under a freeway overpass creating masterpieces scratched out on fast-food wrappers and old grocery sacks. Beholden to nothing but embracing everything.

But no. Instead I am enslaved. Blissfully enslaved. I show people pictures, for chrissakes. "Here's my baby fresh out of the bath." "Here's Mae with her first portion of sweet potatoes." "Here's Mae accidentally shooting her father the finger." Whatever. The fact is I've become this obnoxious nudge so madly in love with her own child she can't imagine others feeling any different. I'm sorry. I really am. For bragging about her and staring at her and not hearing you when you speak to me. I take her everywhere, and she babbles and totters around and interrupts you on your cell phone at the coffee house, and I'm sorry that the very last thing on my list of priorities is whether you are irritated. She could crawl on the table and crap in your cappuccino and I would still think she is the most impossibly beautiful child in the galaxy. I am awful. I really am.

But I'm a fool. I am such a big, proud, foolish jar of gibbering motherhood with feet that follow Mae everywhere. I live to smell her breath while she's sleeping, and I constantly reach for her when she's awake. The day will never come when I'm not reaching for her. I will gather her to me even if she grows to be twice my size. Running after her with outstretched arms, that's me. In fact, my arms are outstretched every chance I get. So at least I was right about that.

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