Mr. X and I watched part of the Godfather III last night. Myself, I was mostly annoyed that Sophia Coppola at the tender age of 19 got to suck face with Andy Garcia the entire movie – lucky girl! – despite the fact that her acting skills in no way compare with her writing and directing skills. Second, I was amused by the fact that Francis Ford Coppola cast at least two members of his immediate family – Sophia, his daughter, and his sister Talia – in a movie that follows the saga of what happens when family ties rule all others. I wonder if Coppola saw the irony in this or felt it was required to make the making of the movie an equally family affair as the movie was.
I was reminded again, though, of the theme of this blog post that I have been thinking about this week – family, and what it means. My mother has been on a tear recently scanning old family photos and sending them around. I am struck, again and again, by how much of our ancestors I see in her, my uncle (her brother), and me.
And, suddenly, it has become very important to me for us to have a biological child of our own who we can look into their little faces and see ourselves. I have this (probably irrational) feeling that if I can’t recognize myself in my child, then I won’t be able to love them or bond with them. Of course, I have also recently thought that it would be fabulous if I could do housework naked and that I really want to get a house-dress so that if I am unable to do housework naked (nosy neighbors!) I can still have that luscious freedom of movement that comes without restrictive clothing.
I think some weird shit in the course of a day.
Still, I’m bothered by my apparent all-or-nothing attitude right now towards biological children. I find the notion that I want My Child not someone else’s rather … snobbish. I think part of the problem is that my mother and I are extremely fortunate in that one of our ancestors had the time and ambition to write the definitive genealogy for the family back in the 19th century. It is an imposing tome – going back all the way to the Mayflower. Yep, my stock comes from the Mayflower, although true to form, I think they croaked when the boat was docked in the harbor. It is unclear if they actually stepped foot on Plymouth Rock before expiring. Other highlights: I’m related to Ben Franklin (although not directly – it’s through his sister), we have one relative who is memorialized in a sculpture somewhere South, there is talk of an Indian scalping, and a sprinkling of relatives served on either side of the Mason-Dixon during the War Between the States.
So, why is this a burden? I don’t know how to share this history with a child who is not related to me or my mother (or my father) or my husband or any of our family. This isn’t their history – they have a history all of their own. But, at the same time, I would be that child’s mother no less than if I donated the egg. My history should be their history, too. But, would we constantly look in their faces to see ourselves and those who came before us? Why is that so important to me?
It’s not like my family has graced the covers of Vogue. We’re not the most handsome or the most ugly family. But, there are certain traits that are passed down from generation to generation. A voice, the slenderness of a finger, eyes. There is something very comforting in seeing yourself reflected back at you. Can I live without that?
Even if I had a biological child, I might have to: upon the joyous occasion of my birth, my father apparently was appalled that I looked exactly like his mother-in-law (I doubt my grandmother would have ever found out about this. She didn’t have the world’s best sense of humor). Apparently, he couldn’t see anything of himself in me.