Help! His mother’s my age!
Something very big happened this week. After two years and two months together with J, his mother made a small gesture that may symbolize my acceptance into the family fold.
Jetlagged and shell-shocked the day after getting back from India, we were at his younger sister’s confirmation, waiting for the official photograph in front of the altar and the lavishly decorated Virgin Mary (remember this is deepest Catholic southern Spain). I was as usual, standing to one side, watching (valuable anthropological study) all the comings and goings of these temperamental folk when it was their turn to pose. J says I should join them. “Don’t be silly,” I retort “We’re not married yet.” He claims his mother has asked for me to be on the picture. And sure enough as they walk up to the altar she beckons me over.
Now this is a woman who up until now won’t sleep under the same roof as me because – I quote her: “I don’t feel comfortable if a woman my age is sharing my son’s bed.” I do admit: she is only five years older than me and my union with her son is ample fuel for every mother’s oedipal paranoias. We are also from different planets – she married at 19, had five children and the furthest she’s been abroad is France; I focused on my career, spent ridiculous amounts of money on shoes and travelled the world alone for decades.
So why this sudden change of heart? Rather than asking when I’ll finally start seeing someone my own age, I have been promoted to daughter-in-law.
I have a confession to make. It’s something I have been keeping from the readers of this column.
I am pregnant. At the ripe and luscious age of 39 my body is bulging with new life. Six months gone and three to go, I am showing beyond any reasonable doubt. And of course J’s mother knows. But if she’s so Catholic why has she accepted a child out of wedlock? I’m not sure I fully understand either. Maybe it has to do with the Latin adoration of children; maybe it is because all pregnant women become as holy as Maria and the child they carry has the innocence of baby Jesus; maybe it is because I am granting her a grandchild; maybe it is simple resignation to the fact that I am now bound to her by blood. Whatever it is I have been silently sworn into the society of mothers. There is an unspoken solidarity amongst women who procreate it seems. My bump prompted J’s grandmother – who really is from another time, speak Franco’s Spain – to recount all her labor stories and assure me that I could eat whatever I wanted to (what, even that second crema catalan?).
And another gesture which is just as touching as being included in the family photo album; J’s mother has started sewing things for the baby – a blanket, a pram cover and she has crocheted tiny little socks. They are blue for a boy.
By Claudia Spahr
For more information and an excerpt from her latest book go to: http://www.andrewlownie.co.uk