01 February 2010

Holidaymaker's initiation into adulthood

In Edinburgh, from the hotel, you can hear the thin, distant sound of traffic, the calls of school children on break and, sometimes, the cry of a seagull. I can picture the high stone walls of the town and the ferocious turquoise of the sea, so dark it is almost like the wicked opalescence of a summer sky at night, minutes before a storm.

Here, I can just as easily picture my old neighbourhoods back home, where I thought I was living independently because I no longer shared a roof with my family. It's only been over the last few days, mainly in quiet moments while the baby sleeps, and as Bruce and I are secluded on our own islands of thought, that I've been able to appreciate that we are really doing this on our own. And then I think that maybe I have finally become a mother - one adult in the story of our family, essential and working invisibly behind the scenes for once.

Except I realise too now that parenthood is not earned. It's not even something you can learn. It's just the responsibility of making one decision after another, with the small, daily picture in mind, while you try and guess at the bigger picture during short, infrequent moments of repose. It's something you do, an instinctual action, and whether anyone sees you with any continuity, the unquestioning way that a child perceives an adult, is really up to them.      

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