I suppose it’s inevitable, this intense admiration for one’s own and only child. Still, I’m amazed at how often I think about her. I am unable to find fault with her; even her transgressions are endearing. Any hint of meanness or selfishness I chalk up to the influence of her peers. Stubbornness or laziness I assign to heredity. Her words are profound, her art inspired, her singing–well, I do love her.
To each devoted parent this must occur. I remember one day, picking her up from her elementary school, standing self-consciously by the little benches on the sidewalk, as a sea of children emerged to find their way home. They all looked alike, a school of fish with backpacks, until this bright face emerged from the shoal–I spotted her the instant she came through the door. I heard her excited voice, “There’s my daddy,” yelled at her crouching teacher as she ran through the little crowd, a starlet in sharp focus shouldering through the extras, the “other children.”
She is a diamond in a wall of coal, Venus at the fall of night. She brightens the world as she walks through it; she defines the world as she discovers it. She peoples the world with smiling creatures who want harmony, safe adventures, and limitless love.
I’ve lived in two worlds now: the one before her, and the one after. The first moment I held her, I felt the world change. I saw everything in it take on a new bright aspect. The new world was in her bewildered face. The sun rose on it and spread its light on it and then I could see.
And it just happens that at the moment I’m reading George Eliot’s Silas Marner. In a passage I read today the miser Silas comes to recognize his gift. His hoarded gold has been stolen, and in its place an orphan child has wandered into his cabin, and he has claimed the child.
“The gold had kept his thoughts in an ever-repeated circle, leading to nothing beyond itself; but Eppie was an object compacted of changes and hopes that forced his thoughts onward, and carried them far away from their old eager pacing towards the same blank limit — carried them away to the new things that would come with the coming years, when Eppie would have learned to understand how her father Silas cared for her; and made him look for images of that time in the ties and charities that bound together the families of his neighbours. The gold had asked that he should sit weaving longer and longer, deafened and blinded more and more to all things except the monotony of his loom and the repetition of his web; but Eppie called him away from his weaving, and made him think all its pauses a holiday, re-awakening his senses with her fresh life, even to the old winter-flies that came crawling forth in the early spring sunshine, and warming him into joy because she had joy.”
And so it is with me.