Today, we were playing, and she fell down.
It was a carpeted surface, but the carpet is pretty firm, and she fell with full force, and hit her head. Hard. She couldn’t even check with me to see if she should cry, the way that babies do — you’re their bellwether — she just cried. Wailed. I held her to my chest and she cried and sucked her thumb and I didn’t pretend it hadn’t happened, I didn’t pretend it didn’t hurt, because it did hurt. She hurt. I just held her, and then after a minute or so the crying and choking slowed and I tentatively showed her her stuffed elephant, just gently, not trying to force a better mood, and she gradually turned to it, opened to it, and soon she was squealing once again with delight.
My heart felt like someone pulled a fire alarm.
This is but a snapshot of the emotional roller coaster I ride each day. I am learning to coast more gently — journaling consistently helps, gives me a release valve, as does making sure there are plenty of other creative outlets in my life, from improv to blogging (here and, more often recently, here) to mounting a new show. I contain more emotion than I can hold these days; I need plenty of places to fling open the floodgates and let it roar.
(I’m seeing a played called Emotional Creature by Eve Ensler tomorrow — it’s meant to portray the lives of girls, not women, but all women are still girls inside, aren’t we? We’re women, too, but we’re also the girls we once were. I recently commented to my friend Kate that I feel like in some ways I stopped growing at age 18 — like I’m frozen in time there, in a deep place inside me… like my emotions and everything about me springs from where I was at that age. Maybe we all have a pivotal age that always stays with us like that…)
In one of the Batman movies, Alfred says to Bruce Wayne, “Why do we fall sir? So we might learn to pick ourselves up.” (Jordan quotes this all the time, using his best Michael Caine accent.) Right after Alison was born, it struck me that the best gift I could ever give her is resilience. Life is glorious and life is shitty — it’s both things — and happiness comes from being resilient… not just getting through the shitty stuff, but emerging from it with the ability, still, to savor all that is glorious. To have hope in your heart. To avoid being jaded. To have faith that you can pick yourself up and there’s more in it for you than another fall.
I wish this faith for my daughter, and I wish for her resilience and strength and so much laughter, the joyous soundtrack that says to the world, “Yes, I witness your glory – I feel it in my soul.”
And so, after she fell this morning, she picked herself up, and her laughter filled the room, and they could hear it all the way over the Brooklyn Bridge, I bet.
Photo available under a Creative Commons license from the Culturally Authentic Pictorial Lexicon