One of my girlfriend’s and I decided to enroll our daughters in a Mommy & Me class at the Children’s museum. Emma was walking, so it must have been when she was about eighteen months old or so. Our daughters were born four weeks apart and it was a way for us to see each other in a city where one routinely must make appointments months ahead to see even close friends.
During the first class Emma became fixated with the guitar, which the young woman who was leading the class played periodically through out the hour and fifteen minutes. When Emma wasn’t trying to grab the guitar out of her hands, she was dashing up the wooden ladder, crawling through a series of tunnels and sliding down the inflated slide, over and over and over again. Meanwhile my friend’s daughter was listening to the stories, happily creating all sorts of “art”, interacting with the other children and seemed content to go along with what was being offered. I laughed it off at the time, but I remember on the subway ride home feeling ashamed and lonely. They weren’t feelings I could logically explain. I mentioned to Richard when he returned home from work in the evening that Emma didn’t seem to like the mommy and me classes. Beyond that I was unable to put the feelings into words. I just felt an inexplicable heaviness.
As was typical, I persevered, hoping she would grow out of it, whatever “it” was and kept showing up for the weekly classes that spanned three months. While other children seemed to develop relationships with one another, albeit rudimentary ones, Emma continued to show no interest in any of the children or adults, for that matter. I remember clinging to the idea that she was independent. Looking back to that time, even now, is painful. I realize we were in limbo, a sort of odd “in between” place which I was unable to recognize, much less express.