Friday, May 13, 2011

cocktail waitresses and mothers

back when i thought my life was my own, i spent some time as a waitress. one thing you learn fast is that when you're carrying a tray of drinks, you shift your weight so that when someone takes a heavy glass off the tray, it stays balanced. you learn to stop sometimes to re-arrange everything on the tray so it won't topple over when the next thing goes.

these days, as sasha prepares to go to college, i can feel our family shifting as we get ready to lose a cornerstone. sasha and i moved back to nyc on our own and every decision i made after that - where i'd live, who i'd marry, the work i did, what sort of food i'd eat - was based on being sasha's mother.

it seems like five minutes ago, sasha was so new that when someone said to me, "i just met your daughter!" it took me a second to realize who they were talking about.

james didn't just marry me, he married us. i always believed he liked the idea of getting a little instant family. so sasha set the tone for everyone else. she chose the first toys and then the other two got matching ones. it was her developing fashion sense that dressed the others. if she wanted to see a movie or take karate or ballet, then everyone else came along for the ride.

all three went to the united nations international school, because it seemed so perfect for sasha. all three took ballet and piano - but no one else took karate because she'd lost interest in it by the time they were old enough.

first, zarina and then rara wore sasha's hand-me-downs (of course, now zarina is taller, has expensive taste and loves shopping, so we all wear HER hand-me-ups).

zarina is becoming more responsible and serious and moving up into the oldest sister position. rara is becoming more defiant as she stops being the baby. we're rearranging the places. and realizing that, in 2 years, zarina will be gone, too. the family dynamic we developed over the past 12 years is evolving.

sasha's acceptance to her first choice of colleges gave her the confidence to make a series of rapid psychological leaps in a month that many less cautious kids made over the past few years - she's learning to cook, reading the newspaper, opened a checking account. without being asked, she walks to the supermarket and buys the missing items from the fridge or walks the dog or cleans up the kitchen. she's eating salad instead of cookies.

on the other hand, she comes home later and later at night. she tests out new nightspots (but, at least, she also goes to museums). i watch her nervously but i don't place too many limits right now. if she's going to fall, i'd rather have her do it here where i'm around to pick up the pieces then when she's far from home for almost the first (long) stretch of time.

so these days, i am adjusting the tray and wondering how i will balance the sense of liberation with the empty space (soon to be filled, i'm sure).

1 comment:

  1. As a first-time mother of a just-mobile baby, I ate this up. A taste of what's in store for Tom and me...