Beginnings

There’s a great line in Mad Men when Don calls the woman he’s been seeing, Dr. Miller, to tell her that he has fallen in love with his secretary, Megan. Dr. Miller says, “I hope she knows you only like the beginnings of things.” Her remark is intended to be incriminating, obviously, but still, who can blame Don? Beginnings are fun. They’re romantic, precarious, and full of potential. I like the beginnings of books, places, and jobs. I like new semesters, shelter dogs, picking out recipes, buying groceries, blank documents, and going to the library, which all feel like a new start.

I think because my dad’s childhood was a bit shifty, he wanted Samantha and me to go to the same school and live in the same house until we moved out on our own. I think because my childhood was so stable, I like the questions what if, what else, and what next. Fortunately, I married a very complex man who is at once a raging saxophonist and a much-loved Mr. Lohmeyer, and so one of the sweetest things we’ve been lucky say to each other over the years is, “Honey, you’ve changed.” There is a way to change and stay the same. Things don’t always have to end in order to begin; starting again is not the same as starting over.

Which is why if you have an ounce of selflessness and financial security, you should probably have a baby. To say they go through phases is to discount the feeling of freshness and rev that comes with the discovery that now, they can crawl, and now, they understand words, and now, they can hug and give kisses. They are a series of beginnings. When I see that Clara has figured out how to stack her wooden donuts—that she can play games, I mentally rub my hands together and think, “Yes, let’s begin!” Clara is all forward momentum– no circles and all spirals.

So, for instance, raising a baby doesn’t usually feel like this (unless she’s getting up every hour with sore gums; then, this below is exactly what those nights feel like):

Circle

But, usually, it’s more like this:

Spiral

Just in case those weren’t clear, here are some more visual representations:

April 11 002

Wake up, Monkey!

April 11 004

A love sandwich starts a morning right.

April 11 005

It’s spring. The snow is melted. Let’s go hiking with our friends.

April 11 006

Friends, continued: Kelsey, Paul, and their baby Anna

April 11 007

You know these people.

April 11 003

Finally, this one comes with a short story. This morning, Clara and I were vacuuming her room. When I went to put the vacuum away, Clara decided it would be fun to close the door on me as I started to walk back to her room. I’d knock and say, “Clara, can I come in?” and gently push the door open. She would in turn vehemently push it closed and giggle. And, we would repeat: “Clara, can I come in?” and a non-verbal “No!” as the door was pushed shut. Truly, I felt transported to a near-future time when Clara is in middle school and enduring such hells as puberty and boys and I am searching for the middle ground between loving kindness and intrusiveness. Since this was only practice, I managed to sneak in and snap this photo of the big girl who is awfully proud of herself.

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