Sunday, May 5, 2013


Sophia and I are in Marshalls, looking for spring dresses.  Sophie has given me a list of criteria to separate the wheat from the chaff:
  • Must be pink
  • Must be sparkly
  • Must be beautiful
  • Must be “long enough”
  • Must not be itchy
  • Must not be tight

It’s a tall order, and I’ve only found one or two things that will fit the bill. I know that if I deviate from her list, there will be consequences.  I am a slave to Sophie’s fashion sense.  But I would rather her find something she really loves and wears till it falls off her body, than have a closetful of dresses she never wears. 

I’ve got my back to a woman who approaches Sophie.   I can hear her as I slide reject after reject across the rack:  too short, too blue, too stripey, too expensive…

“Oh, just look at your eyes!  What color are they?  Not blue, exactly.  More grey…they’re the color of blue jeans!” the woman exclaims.  Without looking I know that she is between 60-70 and alone.  Sophie, unmoved by this show of attention, elicits a barely-audible thank you. 

I turn to share an audible one, when the woman exclaims, “Why look at you!  You have the same eyes!”

“We’re twins,” Sophie informs her, solemnly.

“Well you’re certainly your mother’s daughter.” 

“Yep, “ I say, “No doubt about it.  She’s mine.” 

We move away and Sophie goes on, charmed by the idea of the two of us being twins.  “We’re the same, Mommy.  We both have brown hair.  We both have gray eyes.  We’re both girls.” 

We’re both from this planet.  We both need water to survive, I think.  “Yep.  Two peas in a pod,” I tell her. 

“What does that mean?”

“Peas in a pod grow together and look the same.” 

This delights her.  “Yes, we’re two peas in a pod.” 

Sometimes, I look at Sophie and am startled by the similarity between us.  It is as if I have bent time and am looking at my younger self.  There are pictures of me that could easily be mistaken for her.  At four, my hair has not yet been curled by the hormones of puberty.  It is pin-straight, falling in a pixie-cut about my face, framing my large gray eyes.  My dimples are fainter, but when unsmiling, this difference does not matter. 

How easily I could make the mistake that she is another chance at me.  I could pin all my hopes and unfulfilled dreams on her.  Treat her as what’s known in the psychology biz as a narcissistic extension of self.  Saddling her with the weight of my perceived failures until she buckles under the pressure of them. 

Or, I could imagine myself an enlightened visitor to the past, filled with the wisdom of all my years, who’s come to prevent her from making the same mistakes I made.  I could sagely offer advice of how to live one’s life to minimize the pain that I have suffered myself. 

But Sophie would vehemently resist either of these mothers.  She is some interesting rearrangement of my DNA, and, perhaps bears a strong likeness, but she is not me.  At five, closer to her beginning, she lives in the world differently.  She has her own lessons to teach

I am trying to live in the moment; she inhabits it.
I am trying to maintain a sense of peace and joy; she manufactures it. 
I am trying to love; she embodies it.

It has become exhilaratingly obvious that she is not a version of my self to be saved or taught, but a reminder of who I once was, and, perhaps, who I can aspire to be once again.  

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