12.29.98

Over the past week you’ve begun to smile – usually in response to a sound – to my voice, your Dad’s voice – to Zoe’s voice at Christmas. I apologize for the trite description, but your eyes do twinkle and you’re all gum as you grin, though sometimes the smiles are more modest – a natural extension, it seems, of your quizzical looks – as though while you’re not sure what you’re seeing or hearing, it pleases you.

Recently you’ve been reluctant to go to bed. Want nothing but to walk around. Even my breast will not soothe you and I am sad and sometimes frustrated that I cannot soothe you. Last night your Dad and I argued and I worried – worry – about how it makes you feel – our tension, my anger, our panic – the dis-ease it must leave you with. The question, really,  is how I can protect you – if I can protect you – a question that becomes hard to bear when what I must sometimes protect you from is me. At the same time, of course, I realize that you’re resilient, able to weather much and I, of course, imperfect. I hope there’s a lot of your Dad in you – the capacity to take life as it comes and make the best of what’s immediately available. To be as happy or decent as can be in the midst of turmoil, relaxed i the face of discontent, and not too prone – like me – to feel that the only solution is to start again – all that’s been built suddenly – and with my sometimes mercurial moods temporarily worthless. As though having once let you down, I cannot redeem my parenthood. Then I come to and find each moment precious again – it’s a complex legacy we give you and not always an easy one to manage.

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