tea water is boiling.
-- so I don't disturb any of the Sunday afternoon nappers in the
apartment -- I ease myself out of the squeaky computer chair, where I
have been downloading pictures off the digital camera, then quietly fix
myself an emergency cup of triple-strength Fast Lane Tea. It has been
an intense, dramatic, jam-packed weekend -- including a bicycle theft,
non-stop sightseeing/shopping runs to San Francisco every day AND
dreaded switch to Daylight Savings Time, plunk in the middle of the
weekend -- and I am tired. It is the deep and elemental kind of tired
that comes from very large outlays of *Energy/Emotion/MasterCard Molecules* within a very small period of time. Unlike
the rest of the household, I can't afford the luxury of a
nap right now.
Caffeine is going to have to keep me vertical until we
get home from the airport tonight.
feet from where I stand in the kitchen, dumping double tablespoons of
sugar into my tea, Daughter #1 snoozes peacefully on the sofa. She fell
asleep the instant we got home from the Richmond District this
afternoon: it will be another hour before I'm required to wake her up
for the trip to the airport. Beneath the green afghan, I can see the
slow rise and fall of her shoulders. Her suitcases are parked next to
the door, packed and ready
for the return flight home. While my tea steeps on the kitchen counter,
I stand in the doorway and watch her sleep for a while. When she was
little, this was one of my very favorite things to do in the world:
watching her when she didn't know I was watching her.
still one of my very most favorite things
in the world.
must have taken 43,897,621 photos of her this weekend. I posed her in
front of the fountain at Ghirardelli Square, and next to a wall of sea
lion skulls at the Natural History Museum. I photographed her eating
Bananas Flambé at Le Cheval, and eating Eggplant Parmagiana
at Fior d'Italia (rumored to be San Francisco's oldest Italian
restaurant). I took pictures of her smiling and squinting and brushing
her hair and walking through Golden Gate Park with her stepdad. I even
have a shot of her sitting in the back seat of the Subaru, trying not
to look bored as David drove us around The Embarcadero for the
bazillionth time. ("Here's where the freeway used to be,
before the earthquake!") She was a remarkably good sport
about the relentless picture-taking: at least, she was a good sport
about it MOST of the time. She understands that Mommy has a groovy new
toy, and that until some of the novelty wears off -- or
until somebody breaks into the apartment and STEALS
Mommy's new digital camera, hopefully -- Mommy is probably
going to be pretty fudking annoying to be around.
of the pictures I've downloaded so far have turned out pretty good,
too. Eventually, I want to put them all on a photo CD. I might even add
music (a little "Nellie The Elephant," maybe?) and create one of
those spiffy slideshow presentations my pal Bev
is so good at. It would be an incredibly groovy souvenir of our most
recent -- and most eventful -- Mommy/Daughter Weekend to date.
Still, as nice as it is to have all of this photo documentation of our time
together, I do believe that it was the undocumented moments this
weekend that I enjoyed the most: the moments when I could watch her
without her knowing I was watching her.
call it "Mommy Voyeurism" ... and I got plenty of opportunity to
practice it this weekend.
stores are good. A determinedly Voyeuristic Mom can plant herself at
the top of an escalator, or behind a mannequin, or in the middle of the
Old Navy clearance rack, pretending to look at hiphuggers ... and from
there she can spy on her offspring, undetected, for upwards of fifteen
minutes or so without being spotted. Watching her browse through the
swimsuit selection. Watching her chat with store clerks. Watching her
brush the occasional errant strand of hair from her face.
aquariums are good, too. Mom can trail along behind at a discreet
twenty yards or so, camera in hand, acting like she's critically
interested in the Patagonian Toothfish exhibit ... when what she's really
interested in is watching her daughter absent-mindedly scratching her
left earlobe. Also good: rear-view mirrors, store windows and any other
shiny reflective surfaces ... parking garages ... fast food restaurants
... perfume counters ... any place, basically, where a mom can stand at
the back of the room or across the hall or off to one side, unobserved,
and quietly fill up on the sight of her progeny, like a Jenny Craig
drop-out filling up on Girl Scout cookies.
-- of course -- there is this perennial favorite of mothers everywhere:
watching them sleep.
mouth is open, the tiniest bit, and her eyelashes flutter against her
cheek whenever she exhales. She doesn't look twenty years old. As a
matter of fact, I'll bet that if I try -- if I concentrate as hard as I can, and tune out the
A's game blasting from Upstairs Neighbor Guy's TV -- I can make myself
believe that it's 1984 again, and that she's a pigtailed two-year-old
in a Strawberry Shortcake swimsuit, catching an afternoon nap on the
living room sofa before "Sesame Street." The image is so lovely -- so
unexpectedly heart-squeezingly poignant -- that I consider unplugging
the digital camera from the computer and capturing this moment for
posterity. I could caption it "Puss in Repose." Or, "Daughter
could post it here on *FootNotes!*
as though she read my mind -- as though she telepathically intercepted
this potential violation of privacy in mid-transmission -- her eyes pop
open. Don't you dare, her expression warns.
Puss!" I chirp. "Would you like some Fast Lane Tea?" And I smile
innocently, holding up my tea mug for her to see. See? No
camera. Just tea.
nods. "That would be nice," she says sleepily. I retreat back into the
kitchen to make her tea, using the still-hot water from the tea kettle.
As I'm brewing and stirring, I maintain a steady stream of momjabber
... all about how much I've enjoyed our weekend, especially Ghirardelli
Square and pizza at Giorgio's, and about how glad I am that she's
flying on Alaska and not on Southwest this time, because at least we
know she's got an assigned seat: none of this stoopid 'boarding
lottery' stuff, and about how we should probably start planning our
next visit right away, so we can both arrange the time off from work.
"You know," I tell her, "I'm actually glad you were
here the same weekend my bike got stolen." It was a lousy way to start
the visit, true, but having her here kept me too busy and too
distracted to brood much. Plus it helped keep me focused on what really
matters. "I think we both learned something from the experience," I say, stirring two packets of Sweet & Low into her mug. (She
learned that her Mom no longer falls to pieces in a crisis ... and *I*
learned that kryptonite isn't just for comic books anymore.) When her
tea is ready finally, I carry the steaming mug -- along with a plate of
crackers and Asiago, a folded paper towel and a vitamin -- out to the
OK. We still have forty-five minutes until we have to head for the
airport. I quietly set the tea on the end table, next to the sofa ...
and then I just stand there, looking at her for a little longer.
I've got the chance.
what can i say? thank
you very much.