When she was a child my daughter Maryrose wanted to go to Russia more than anything. When asked why, she said, “Because there are castles with spires and Anastasia was born there. Also, there’s a couple perfectly preserved dead guys in glass cases. Very cool.” So Russia went from being #5 on the list of places I wanted to visit, to #1. Funny how we feel our children’s desires more acutely than our own. At the time I didn’t know if I would ever be able to afford to take her there, but I made it a secret goal. That Christmas I bought her a music box just like the one Anastasia had in the cartoon. It was a gift for her yes, but it also served as a visual reminder of my goal.
Years passed and she grew up, and in a few short years, Anastasia wasn’t the princess who lived after all. The fairy tale was just that. By the time I could afford to take my children anywhere, Russia had taken second place to Ireland in her dreams. Ireland, the land of our ancestors and where her red hair originated. So to Ireland we went. A fulfillment of a long ago promise to show my children the world.
When I was a child Africa was the place I dreamed of. I fantasized about giraffes, riding elephants and dancing with the Swahili. None of that is tempting today. There are too many other places to go first; Places on their lists. Looking back now, I understand, being a mom is a sort of melting process. I flowed out into my children. I melted into them, so that I can no longer tell where they end and I begin. They are me and I am them. If they weren’t a part of my life, as hard as that is to imagine, would Africa, still be my #1, or has time, as much as children changed me also?