Chelsea Clinton gave birth. The photos show her glowing. Beaming, really. She could light up a galaxy with that radiating happiness. My vision is blurry and I’m light-headed. Oh! A tweet from our future president, Hillary. “@Bill Clinton and I are over the moon with happiness! One of the happiest moments of our life.” There, the knockout punch.
See, Chelsea’s like…a friend. No, of course she doesn’t know me, but I was an awkward teen when she was the First braces wearing Daughter, and I always admired how she came to her own despite the public spotlight. From what I’ve gathered, she’s intelligent, thoughtful and grounded, and so, when she’s doing the baby thang, this sans feels it close to home. It feels like another good friend having a child.
The close friend delivery routine. Internal thoughts-panic and despair, followed by feeling distanced all the while maintaining a weak smile of repressed love to the newborn (that flicker of maternal instinct in me, I suppose). Externally, congratulate the parents and forward the photos to my mom. These photos buy me time, fill up space–that void of heavy silence. A subject my mother dare not broach, knowing wisely that parental pressure will not bring her grandkids any sooner. We flit around the obvious topic of interest and make empty conversations about the friends’ babies–how the baby has a full set of hair already, looks more like the mother, so tiny, etc. But I am burning with questions. Has she given up on me? Does she say a daily prayer? Is she hopeful? Does she care?
And so, when @HillaryClinton, whose accomplished career to date is only a warm-up act, says that having a grandchild is one of her happiest days, my heart turns leaden, weighed down with guilt. That my mother never once has nagged, or even asked, adds to the self-loathing. But HRC confirmed what I’ve feared is the truth–nothing compares to holding your grandchild, even if you’re the most powerful woman in the world.