Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Reading reading reading

I'm reading Roadmap to Holland by Jennfier Graf Gronenberg. Oh my God. This is the best book I have ever read. To say that I relate in too many ways to this book is an understatement, so I fear my fondness for it may be ever so slightly narcissistic. Still -- the prose is so lush, and the emotion and detail so amazing and raw. It awes me.

Some of the things she's able to convert to prose are things I've struggled with and haven't been able to express myself. I've read what other mothers have said about her book, and it seems to be a consistent comment that she's almost like a mouthpiece for our collective souls.

That sounds sappy, but oh well.

I won't even attempt to list out all the things in her book so far (I'm not even halfway through!) that have spoken to me, but the most recent thing I read is still stuck in my head.

Where I'm at, she is obsessed with looking at photos of children with Down syndrome. I can relate to this; I still sometimes spend hours cruising through the Down syndrome sites and parents' blogs, looking at photo after photo.

She writes about how her mother's first visit after her twins are born. (Quick recap: her second pregnancy, she has twin boys. One of the boys has Down syndrome.) Her mother takes pictures of the house, the kids, the family while she is visiting, and then when she has them developped, she sends them to her (the author).

The writer/author/mother pauses on the last photograph, which is of Avery, her son with Down syndrome. She says the photo makes him look bad, retarded. She tears up the photo and throws it away.

Please direct your attention to the right, to the photo of Kiki at 10 months old. Notice that she looks every bit a DS baby in this photo. I agonized about whether or not to post that photo. I agonized about whether or not to send that photo to friends and family.

There were other photos since she was born, occasional photos that starkly showed her DS features, pictures that made me cringe. I kept them. I kept them all. I don't honestly recall whether or not I ever shared them, but I have them.

The urge to throw them away though was palpable. If they were paper, in my hand, I would have torn them up. But they weren't; they were digital, sitting on my computer, fragile enough to disappear without a trace with a single click. Somehow I think that made them less real, less threatening.

In the end I think it was about trying to accept every facet of my baby. I allow myself denial in so many other arenas that perhaps I felt deep down that I had to curb it in somewhere, somehow.

I was actually proud of myself for finally putting that photo of her up. My baby is generally beautifully photogenic, unlike her mother, but like everything in life, there are always exceptions. And sometimes, it doesn't hurt to keep a bad photo.


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