They huddled terrified against each other, the way Annamaria clutches my legs when a stranger gets too close. Out of all of Sandy Hook's nightmare images that's the one that stays with me, the one that haunts my days and chills my dreaming nights. They held their friends and closed their eyes and hoped the bad man would go away. But he didn't.
And for some nights she whimpered as she dreamed The dead thing spoke, saying: "Do not recall Pleasure at my conception. I am redeemed From pain and sorrow. Mourn rather for all Who breathlessly issue from the bone gates, The gates of horn, For truly it is best of all the fates Not to be born."
In the age of mass media, abortion rights activists are at a distinct disadvantage. We are hard-wired to feel protective toward infants. Images of shredded fetuses and talk of "baby-killing" incline us to sympathy for the poor, helpless babe in the womb. The right to choice, by contrast, is far more abstract - especially for those who don't have wombs. Just about everybody agrees that murdering children is a bad thing. Not everyone is amenable to arguments that the fetus is really a parasite.
I have a bunny on my head. Your logic is irrelevant.
Annamaria holds the spoon and waits impatiently for food to appear on its end. She examines it quizzically, then places it in her mouth. A long expectation of peas and pears with yogurt is followed by disappointment. She looks sadly up at us, wondering what went wrong.
As she matures from infant to toddler (the "twoddler" era, if you will), Annamaria is beginning to understand the rules which govern her new realm. She is slowly, if moistly, mastering the secrets of the Sippy Cup. She has learned that you can make unwanted sunhats disappear by pulling them off and throwing them out of your carriage. She has discovered that paper can be torn into bite-sized, easily swallowed pieces. (Ask me how I know this. On second thought, please don't... ).
As she untangles the thorny differences between self and other , Annamaria has also become an active participant in her day-to-day activities. A true child of the Occupy Wall Street era, she has mastered civil disobedience at an early age. No longer does she submit passively to the indignities of diapering: instead, she puts her barrel rolling skills to good use. Should an escape spin fail, she has learned how to unfasten the velcro straps which keep the hated Pampers affixed to her behind. A fist balled in a sleeve can slow down the whole process of putting on a shirt: a foot to the face or to a more tender region expresses her displeasure with those adorable little bell bottoms.
A major part of the maturation process is learning to submit to authority. You take turns. You stand in line. You raise your hand before you speak. You show the man with the badge your license, title and vehicle registration. You give the boss your quarterly report. You never pass on a double yellow line or park in a handicapped space without the proper placard. We could not have a complex society - or any kind of society, really - without hierarchies and rules of conduct.
I contemplate the mysteries of life but find no answers. I seek meaning but find only absurdity. I crave authenticity yet find only illusions. Also, my gums hurt.
As she approaches her seventh month, Annamaria has developed separation anxiety. As a practical matter, this means that she screams in abject terror every time I put her in her play yard and head off to do chores. As a philosophical matter, it provides fodder for all kinds of useful speculation once the shrieking stops.
Like her maternal grandfather and unlike either of her parents, Annamaria is a morning person. As the first rays of sunrise color the burnt umber-orange suburban night, Annamaria arises with a faint burbling fuss. It's a pitiful mew that begins in the pit of her stomach and moves up, a sharp existential whine protesting the cosmic injustices of waking up hungry and cranky with a piss-soaked diaper affixed to your butt.
Sometimes we're lucky and she falls muttering back to sleep for a few precious moments. This isn't one of those mornings. As I attend to her diaper I see she's hungry. More precisely, I hear it. Her whimpers accelerate from fighting cat yowls into something you might hear as the Nazgul king came dropping out of the sky for you. Trying to hold a wriggling Annamaria with one hand while clasping her diaper, I finally manage to get the job done and get her back in her crib. She screams at my back as I run for the bathroom.
It's very nice that you have a blog. Now you can make me a bottle.
This is the first post to my new Witches and Pagans blog. Because I am a parent to a 6 month-old tyrant who owns me body and soul, it took me a while to finish. I thought that twenty years of working with lawyers would prepare me for my new career of wiping asses and answering shrieking demands. I had no idea. Dealing with an infant isn't like dealing with a surly partner on a deadline. It's more like sharing space with the Terminator. There's no bargaining with a baby, no reasoning, no putting things off for a more convenient moment. They put you on their schedule by sheer indomitable force of will and 'WAAAH!' You snatch bits of sleep when they rest and keep vigil when they don't, stumbling through a drowsy routine of baths, bottles and bodily fluids.