May 2010

No, I’m not valedictorian or salutatorian and I don’t get to give a speech at my high school graduation, but I’m still reflecting and considering and getting scared.

When I was a little girl, Pocahontas was my favorite movie. As I approach my high school graduation, there is a part of me that isn’t ready to leave high school — a piece of my heart that wants everything to stay exactly the same. Last night, I was reminded of the old adage that everything always changes. Just as a river changes the lives and the plants it touches, so the river itself changes from moment to moment, and so do our lives.

The real Pocahontas was a young teenager when the English settled at Jamestown and her life and the life of our continent changed forever. The Disney movie places her closer to my age and her questions are similar to my own.

What I love most about rivers is:
You can’t step in the same river twice
The water’s always changing, always flowing
But people, I guess, can’t live like that
We all must pay a price
To be safe, we lose our chance of ever knowing
What’s around the riverbend
Waiting just around the riverbend

I look once more
Just around the riverbend
Beyond the shore
Somewhere past the sea
Don’t know what for…
Why do all my dreams extend
Just around the riverbend?
Just around the riverbend…

Lyrics here

Unlike Pocahontas, I know where I am going. I have no marriage proposals to consider, but I do have a scholarship to Princeton. My dreams await past the shore and into the sea. The river of high school has changed me, as have all the streams and rocks and reeds in my life.

In the past 18 years, my river has included rough and smooth waters and has taken some unexpected turns. I have a sense of what lies just beyond the river bend, and I’m gathering the courage to explore the rest of the twists and turns.

Last year I wrote a hateful, whiny, anti-mother screech for mother’s day.  But this year I am older and wiser and a little bit less angry, so I am going to try again.

Mother’s Day is important even if you don’t have a mom around.  Maybe it’s even more important and here’s why.

If we are lucky in our lives, a lot of people love us, and some of us in mothering ways.  If we’re smart, we let them.  And if we’re really smart, we thank them.  Our own original moms may have had a choice whether or not to become a mother, especially in the 50 years since the pill came out, but they didn’t choose to mother us specifically unless we’re adopted.  But many of us get mothering love from people who chose us and who love us even when we’re not perfect.

So now I want to thank all of the real life and internet moms and aunts who love me even though they don’t have to.  Thanks to my brother, who was my first substitute mom, and thanks to Hazel’s mom, Agnes, Uncle Dave, Aunt Betsy, Auntie Sue, Mrs. B, Bob, all of the Beach House moms & aunts, and Grandma K.  One day I will be a great mom because of all of you.