The pride I feel for Wee Cee is like nothing I had ever experienced before I had her. Even her growing hair is a cause to celebrate. I’m sure I’m too fussy, but I don’t care. She’s my little slice of perfection and even when she’s driving me to the brink of insanity, I adore her. The fact that she can elicit a response from me at all is a credit to her developing personality and all the more reason to feel parental pride.
Along with all the milestones she hits, I’m learning too. I’m learning the profundity of the love all parents have for their children. Before I had her, I thought parents loved their kids because, hey, why not? You can’t beat ‘em, so you may as well fawn over them. That’s part of it, but it turns out that the adoration you have for your own child is largely instinctual. There’s a little piece of yourself crawling around and babbling, and with each crawl and babble, you become more and more addicted to her. This parental adoration is the great equalizer. We all have it, and that’s reassuring. It’s good to know that everyone who ever lived was either loved this way, and if they choose to have their own kids, will be vessels of this selflessness.
My dad had to travel a lot for his work as a Caterpillar salesman. He went on solo sales calls constantly, but he also went to a lot of swanky conventions. Occasionally my mom would accompany him sans my brother and me, so as to recharge her own batteries. Sometime when I was in fifth or sixth grade, she went to Scottsdale, Arizona to meet my dad at a convention being held at the Gainey Ranch, apparently a very big deal. She arrived before my dad and relished the opportunity for some maxin’ and relaxin’, since this is what we all did in the early 90′s.
One day, she went down to one of the several fab restaurants at the hotel to enjoy brunch. (I actually have no idea what meal she was having, but I’m assuming it was brunch because brunch is the most luxurious and swank of meals. The Gainey Ranch likely only sells brunch.) Adjacent to her table was a large group of women who were clearly having a good time. One lady in particular zeroed in on my mom and within minutes her little party of one had been absorbed into the amorphous larger table.
This is all no big deal until the identity of the chatty lady from the big table was revealed.
She was Bob Dylan’s mom. And she wanted to talk all about her son.
My mom learned that she had been displaced to Arizona for the winter at her son’s insistence that it would be more comfortable than Minnesota. My mom was intrigued. She asked what he had been like as a child.
“He was beautiful. He was a poet and he always wrote us poems as gifts. He was tender and kind,” Bob Dylan’s mom gushed. These types of questions never get old. No matter how famous your child is, he is still your baby. For this was the woman who knew Robert Zimmerman. She loved him when he was born and she loved him when he grew. She even loved him when he plugged in.
She asked my mom about my brother and me, and my mom described us with the same maternal enthusiasm. In that moment, they were just two moms, talking about their babies.
My mom told us this story when we were kids and we were impressed because she had met a relative of a celebrity. In a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon sort of way, I was famous too because Bob Dylan and I existed as equals within the same conversation. And as much as I still want to glean some kind of glory from this, these days I think more about Bob Dylan’s mom than I do about him. She loved him in a way that no one else ever will. She would have invited my mom over to her table even if he had been a gas station attendant. She loved him for the small things, the things that make him essentially him.
And that’s parenthood: adoring them because they are ours. There are no caveats or exceptions. We are in good company with our parents because they will always love us, gold record or no.
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