Saturday, December 21, 2013

CHOCOLATE: OF THEE I SING




         I read that chocolate stimulates the same part of the brain as marijuana.  They did a big study.

         They shouldn’t have bothered.  I could have told them that.

         Same with sex.  The guys with the lab coats had to plaster electrodes on people to find out that chocolate is the next best thing to sex.  Well, duh.

         The truth is that chocolate is the next-best thing to virtually every cosmic pleasure, and far surpasses the more pedestrian gratifications.  I mean, which would you choose – bowling or chocolate?

         Then there are the pleasures that chocolate enhances – reading, bathing, walking.  And the activities that it renders tolerable – dishwashing, vacuuming, routine office work.  Sure there are other foods that heighten pleasure or distract from tedium, but would you eat a burrito in the bathtub?  Could you eat a plate of spaghetti while washing windows?  Simultaneously, I mean.

         Chocolate is a compact and portable delight with an efficient pleasure-delivery system.  In fact, if you’re not too fussy about nutritional value, chocolate may be the perfect food.  Oh sure, there’s the caffeine and the sugar, but consider the sensual pleasure.  Imagine a sliver of bittersweet chocolate on the tongue, slowly melting with the body’s heat, conforming itself to the very shape of the mouth.  Imagine chocolate surreptitiously licked from a finger, the singular momentary rush.  Now imagine, say, a cheeseburger.  

         Chocolate is nature’s way of reminding us that eating doesn’t always have to be a serious business, and that small pleasures are all around us, if we will only pay attention.            

         If I have not yet succeeded in convincing you of chocolate’s superior virtues, let me leave you with this question:  Who would you rather kiss -- the person who just ate a piece of chocolate or the one who just ate a hot dog? 

         I rest my case.

Friday, December 6, 2013

ON DAUGHTERS GROWING UP


My daughters are 26 and 28.  I love them beyond measure.  And I love knowing them as adults and seeing what they are making of their lives.  Giving them life and starting them on their paths is the best thing that I have ever done. 

Here’s the rub, though – the thing that I want to write about now, the thing that nothing prepared me for:  I did not know how much I would miss their younger selves.  Of course, I knew that they would grow up.  I just didn’t get what it would feel like to lose forever the babies, the toddlers, the little girls that they were.   

A couple of months ago I was walking through a park on a weekday.  The park was filled with young mothers and their children.  I sat down for a few minutes and watched them.  They wore their youth so lightly.  They would live in this world of young motherhood forever.  (You can’t see the end of it when you are in the middle.)  I envied them that tunnel vision, that feeling that this is your life—days filled with children, with you, the mom (and the other parent, of course) at the center, loving, caring for, feeling both amazed and exhausted by, your children.   

And, then, it is over. 

Slowly, at first, as they reach puberty and begin the turn outward, and then – following a rush of senior-year activities – they are gone.  They leave home to go to college or whatever the next step is for them.  They come home.  But by the time that they finish college (if all goes as it ought) they don’t live with you anymore. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t live my life in a state of mourning.  I don’t think about this all of the time.  But, sometimes I see a young woman with two little girls and my heart cracks a bit, thinking of my little girls.   Where have they gone?  They have turned into amazing young women.  But where are those babies, those toddlers, those little girls? 

It is different for our children.  They have always known us as adults.  Granted, we get older, but we are essentially the same people that they have always known, only older and creakier.  Sadly, they don’t remember the baby-and-toddler years when you were the center of their universe, nor do they remember much about the little-girl years.  Their memories likely begin with the years when it became important to separate from you.  

But we remember it all.  I think that is probably why parents of adult children drive their kids nuts with stories about their childhoods.  They want to relive those moments that their children have forgotten.

Today, my oldest and her boyfriend got on a plane back to London, where they live, so I am feeling the sadness of that distance as well.

I am so grateful for Skype.  And for the photos of my daughters in all of their growing up incarnations—I will try not to foist these on them too often. 

Most of all, I am grateful for the experience of being a mom, with all of its bittersweetness.  I would not trade it for anything.