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Further notes on self awareness.
My daughter, Coco, sent me this photo the other day.
She (left) and her friend, Clare, are on the ferry from Portland to Peaks Island in Maine.
I am a little obsessed because she looks so much like me when I was young. I absolutely love the face she’s making, in contrast to Clare’s smile. Coco has lots of great faces and this is one of my favorites.
I am very curious about the ways mothers and daughters interact, share DNA and traits. How much of me is there? How amazing and funny to be given a mirror in a kid, to watch evolve and bloom.
My daughter has a very nice life, the kind of life I dreamed of when I was young. I feel good about that, that one generation into this my offspring have access to many opportunities I didn’t.
I am proud of the many ways she’s strong and independent. She’s far away from me now, but I love watching her life unveil. She is working, meeting new people, living healthy, having fun.
She’s taking a cooking class in Rome next week!
I love and study her now, from afar.
Watching her sometimes puts me in a time machine and I don’t hate that.
I think there are two main features that distinguish my life with her from my life with my mother, when I was growing up: money and conversation.
There is much more of both now.
It’s easy to see how a paucity of one or both affects a person.
I got out my school records the other day. They’re funny and weird, the things upon which we were graded and judged so random and dumb. On one of the forms from a standardized test I took my junior year in high school I indicated that I intended to earn a PhD in forestry. The following year I noted that I was going to study food science.
I ended up getting a BA in English literature.
The things I loved: the woods, food, reading. I still do, just not so sure I needed a degree in any of them, which is why I love that Coco is taking her time, thinking about college, looking that way with a critical eye.
I was a teacher: kindergarten, second grade, fourth grade, English, photography. Apparently I taught religious education in high school.
Then I was an AmeriCorps volunteer for a while. I think I couldn’t find a job after I got an M.Ed. Then I was a newspaper writer, photographer and editor.
Then I had a little shop and I was a photographer.
Then I became a hospital chaplain. Then a pastor. Then a hospice chaplain.
It took me almost 35 years to find my way to thing it feels like I’m supposed to do. Recently a woman read my natal chart and said, “It’s right here: you have a contractual obligation to death.”
I feel like we should have our chart read before we leave the hospital when we’re born. Or maybe at least make it an option. Can you imagine all the time we would save?
My other doppelgänger, my sister, is coming down from her perch in Alaska in a few days. I’ll be studying her, too. I have always thought she looks and sounds like me, but she’s super smart. I was too lazy to be that. I didn’t get that genetic material, either.
But daughters … I mean …
“We mothers stand still so our daughters can look back and see how far they’ve come.” Ruth Handler
Of course we do. Why wouldn’t we?
Cheers, stay warm. xomo