This past week, Olive and I took a huge hike across town from the Mission to the Marina, then up to Pac Heights, where we met up with an old co-worker of mine and her 19-month-old daughter. We chatted about becoming a mother as the babies toddled around, and she said that the biggest shift in thinking for her was realizing that she’s no longer young. I will admit that motherhood has a way of aging you, but I couldn’t really resonate with her statement. I think a lot of that is that I am in an inter-generational community at Holy Innocents.
The last time we went to Wednesday night potluck, my 8-month-old daughter played with our 70 year old friend, while I chatted with my 14 year old pal, who brought me some old dresses of hers, one of which I am wearing now. Before we started going to Holy Innocents, all our friends fell within the 25-40 year old range. A welcome change for us has been getting to know people of all ages, enjoying the wisdom of the aged as well as the vibrancy of the young. My recent friendship with the 14 year old I mentioned has been a sweet surprise. I went to her show at the Marsh Theater the other week, and found myself with tears in my eyes the moment she came on stage, singing and dancing in a modernized version of As You Like It. I was inspired by her clear and true expression, her voice ringing out through the small theater like a bell.
Another reason I don’t feel “old” now that I am a mom is I don’t really miss my youth. In those days I blazed like a Roman candle, solo and brilliant but ready to go off at any time, my eyes burning out of their sockets as I threatened to flicker out. At this time in my life I still burn, but more like a fireplace blaze, with the members of my family and my community acting as the logs and coals that support the flame, and the Holy Spirit stoking it anew whenever the logs shift and need new sparks. It is a more stable, sustainable fire, that may not light up the sky but will keep my loved ones warm all the same.
Finally, I am indeed finding renewed youth in Olive. Her wonderment for the smallest things gives me great joy to watch, and it brings me back to the magic of childhood. Growing up was challenging in many ways, but my imagination was never stifled, and I am excited about entering in to fanciful worlds with Olive and seeing where they take us.