Monday, November 28, 2005

A Forest For Thee

Dear readers, I need your insight.

For Thanksgiving we went to my brother's house. Our adopted daughter is now twenty months old. The next youngest person at the dinner was her cousin, 14 years old. Then another cousin, 17. Then the sparkling college freshman, now 18. And then the adults, like dominoes: 42, 43, 46, 53, 55, 70 and 77. And four more in their eighties.

I might find some luck with respect to some real income next year. It will take me to the sky, tossing between coasts. My dad is 77, and faints in church. His neurologist took away his driver's license. And my baby girl is a baby no longer. She calls her mama "Ammy." Yesterday she was walking around the house holding her baby rattle to her ear, babbling. Suddenly I realized she was miming me on the phone. Everyday her insights grow, like little blocks, high and full.

Thanksgiving dinner was good, but I caught a glimpse of my daughter's aloneness in a world of adults. It saddened me. She made the rounds in her black dress, pressing her cheek to big people's laps. I observed her in the spotlight; she's keenly aware of it.

My wife and I are heading into our middle forties now. It's coming towards decision time: Should we have another child? It would be adoption again -- not a simple procedure, believe me.

I wish you could know my wife like I do. No one knows her except for me -- no one. She's the quiet, observant one at parties. She's consumed with magic worlds. She has an imagination that many people would find off-putting, for being so vibrant. Her words on paper make me melt. For her, the inanimate is alive; it has names. There's a forest within her, with flowers, bats, and little wingless angels lost in the leaves. You can't know how much I love her forest, and its many enchanting tales.

I've noticed since being a mother that my wife's forest has become more distant. I try to encourage a path inside. She certainly takes in our child's wonderment as her own. But for now at least, at twenty months, her own forest takes second place. It must. I hope that when the early trials of mothering pass, our daughter can be a collaborator in the trees, filling the forest with her own creatures. I don't know if you understand this, but it matters. This is where our love is, like a fire.

I worry that a second child will be too much. No more forest. My wife is strong, but not in ways that people recognize. This daughter takes all she's got. Will a second one break her? Me? My wife is an only child, and experience tells her we should try again.

And then there's me. Long days in the basement office, furiously designing. Our life is good -- during the day I come up for air and tea, and daughter time. I make our lunches, and we go on walks. Our rented house is small, and our life scaled down compared to so many others. A second child would probably ensure that we'll not own a house for a long time -- something I've longed for. Does that even matter anymore?

Have we found balance, our little family of three? Or do we lack it? Cicero can be very, very depressed sometimes, dear readers. For me, the world has always been a swirl. It can be so bright, but pull me down so deeply. But for now, more than the swirl out there, this decision matters most. It figures large. It's not obvious what to do.

Bits and atoms;
Dollars and things;
They don't matter.
They never will.

When we die
All that matters is love;
How much we loved
How much we were loved
How much we are love.

All that matters is love.