January 31, 2008

Sweet Potato Grows Up

My poetry professor at Chico State, Carol Simmons Oles, wrote a poem called "Post Partum II" about life newly empty-nested. She ends the poem by comparing her children to a hummingbird that flew in and out of the house in the time it took her to open and let go of the front door. That poem made me cry the first time I read it, but I think I was thinking of myself as the child then. Now I'm looking at the poem from the opposite side of the door, so to speak.

Sweet Potato is not ready to leave home-- in fact she swears she's never moving away from us. She may change her mind about that one day, but we've got another good eight years before she goes anywhere. Eight years. It doesn't seem long at all really, considering the last ten years were over in a blink. Where did they go?

I'm feeling nostalgic for my little girl because this week she announced, (well, it was more like a whisper) that she was having her first visit from Aunt Flow. It's hard not to imagine her as a crabby old aunt with a hunch back and a cane that she uses to jab, hard. Maybe that's not how I should think of it, though. I can't abide that turnip-headed Old Testament punishment stuff.

So, I'm trying to change my thinking about blood. It's not a monthly burden to be endured; it's a silky red ribbon that binds women to each other and makes us special. It's a sign that we are creators of life, the most incredible miracle. We are walking miracles, for crying out loud! Of course being a miracle isn't going to happen without a good dollop of pain, and not the metaphorical kind.

I can almost buy it. If only we ran around naked and didn't have to worry about the blood staining our undies, best pair of jeans (or our husband's best pair of jeans-- sorry honey!) and our sheets. What did they do back in the naked days? Must have done a week's worth of swimming.

This is Sweet Potato's big concern, too. "What if this happens while I'm at school?" she asked me last night at bedtime.

"We'll watch the calendar, we'll always be prepared, and always wear several layers, so you can wrap a sweatshirt around your waist if there's an emergency," I said.

Sweet Potato lamented that boys didn't have to worry about these messy details. I said, "That's true, but they do get those random erections, and that's why they all wear giant pants. That look isn't going out of fashion any time soon."


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