I can taste the fruit of Eve.
I'm aware of sickness, death and disease.
The results of her choices were vast.
Eve was the first, but she wasn't the last.
If I were honest with myself,
had I been standing at that tree,
my mouth and my hands would be covered
with fruit. Things I shouldn't know
and things I shouldn't see
Remind me of this with every decision:
Generations will reap what I sow.
I can pass on a curse or a blessing
to those I will never know….
To my great-great-great granddaughter,
live in peace.
-Sara Groves, “Generations”
Ariel turned two last month. She’s exceptionally perceptive and verbal—at least according to those who interact with her—and she’s made me want to be a better woman.
A director at my work—someone I work with but not for—likes to make off-the-cuff remarks without filtering or considering the recipient. A few months ago, on a day when Ariel hadn’t napped or eaten enough, we happened to see this director at the park. Ariel waved but didn’t really speak. Director turned to me and stated: “She’s so strong-willed. Maddening.” A while later, after I had brought Ariel into the office, Director commented on Ariel’s chattiness and, in what was not a compliment, said, “Apples don’t fall far, do they?”
I went into my office, sucked back tears, got it together to teach my next three classes, and then went home and held Ariel. I told her she was beautiful and smart and loved. She told me she loved me too, and then asked if I could put on Blue’s Clues.
Ariel is a lot like me: she’s adventurous but cautious: she demands for Greg to push her too high on the swings; she likes to hold our hands when we’re in public. She enjoys participating in conversation and feels left out when people don’t respond to her. She likes nail polish and chocolate and looking at the moon. She's teaching Eva how to talk. She has striking ringlets of hair, the object of most strangers’ admiration.
Last week, I was combing through the tangles—which hurt—and twisting in a ponytail. She kept dropping to the ground and shrieking. I told her it was okay, that she was a strong girl. She leveled: “I’m not a strong girl!”
I stopped combing. I wondered how a just-two-year-old could know so much about herself, and then I remembered I am her mother, and I know better.
I picked her up and let her admire her hairdo in the mirror. I looked at her and asked her if she was strong. She smiled that resolute smile I know: the one that tells me she knows more than she lets on. “I’m strong, Mommy.”
And that’s when I remembered that apples really don’t fall that far.