My son is home from Argentina and Costa Rica. Where he had a phenomenal trip. Turns out that the privilege of higher education includes lots of opportunity to carouse. What happens in Princeton extends to Buenos Aires. I figured you’d want to know.
This week my daughter turned 23. Which turned out to mean some celebration, some glitches, and a world class meltdown. Same as it ever was.
My strongest feeling in the past few days has been of recognition. “Oh yes. I know this one.” My son, sitting on the sofa, head bent over a device of some sort. My daughter, crying and laughing at the same time. I know this one. I know these two.
When you have kids, if you pay attention, you become an expert. An expert in your kids. You might then make terrible errors in judgment, even so, but you have an undeniable body of knowledge.
I like that. I like to be an expert. All my years in the corporate world, despite my relative successes, I was essentially faking it. A Comparative Literature major who specialized in Epic Poetry, with sub-specialties of The Renaissance, French, and Italian Language, may not have sound footing in high technology. Someone prone to gazing off will not prevail over the ambitious, or the treacherous.
I have to stop here. Motherhood is certainly not the only road to self-understanding. If I hadn’t had kids, if I had chosen instead a career completely suited to my nature, I could still have experienced this ‘becoming expert’ – for which I am sure there is a single word, in some language. Probably Japanese. Not, however, pre-1700’s French or Italian.
One other thing. It wasn’t self-sacrificial, gathering information on my children over time. Watching them carefully. Now, when I recognize their patterns, I can feel my cognition and memory working, and my sense of self is reinforced. It kind of prickles. There would be pinging sounds, if we came with built-in sonar.
Who you are is what you learn. But then we have to try to do right by our knowledge.