Mommy Chronicles

A funny look at motherhood and the mayhem it causes.

April 22, 2002

I'm a Pod Dada

By Adam Berliant

Sunday morning, Martha and I did something wild.

With Lucy at the grandparents, we took the rare opportunity to have slow, patiently delivered, babyless meal at a restaurant I don’t think we’ve even talked about since Lucy’s birth. It was the kind of breakfast that featured batter-dipped tortillas and eggs studded with artichoke hearts. The orange juice was freshly squeezed, and neither Martha nor I used two hands to drink it.

While discussed grown-up things like redecorating, international travel and movies starring Parker Posey, it was only by accident that I looked over Martha’s shoulder and saw another couple come in, toting their young daughter.

The little girl had sneakers on. Sort of like a pair Lucy had once.

And they asked for a high chair, but the little girl preferred to sit on the table, not by it, just like Lucy. The girl waved at the waiter and made a friendly smiley face. Like Lucy. She grabbed the silverware and held it in the air. She put her hands in the glasses of water and stirred. She threw her napkin over her head. She made a loud, crazy sound, then another. She grabbed for her mother, then her father, then her mother again two seconds later. All just like my Lucy.

And then, finally, she looked my way. She looked at me, and her little forehead crinkled up the same way Lucy’s does. She clearly caught me looking at her. So, what else could I do?

I hunched up my shoulders, I crinkled up my face, I made a big, big smile, and I gave her a long wiggly finger wave and whispered “hi.”

And she grinned real big, just like Lucy would, and thought about (but didn’t) wave back. Martha turned and looked, and we both sighed, sooooo cute.

And, so, at that moment, I thought about Donald Sutherland in the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, because clearly, my personality was in danger of being consumed by a pod-borne creature from space.

I have a long history of shunning sentimentality. My greeting cards are cynical, my favorite movies all have Harrison Ford in them, and come holidays and birthdays, as far as I’m concerned, a phone call is fine! And yet, ever since Lucy has been in my life, I’ve turned into this weird, finger-wiggly-waving thing. Slowly, all the refrigerator art in the world makes sense to me.

And the thing is, it’s getting worse. I first noticed it getting worse when Martha started having nightly discussions about the cutest thing Lucy did each day. And I found myself answering the question with sappy little stories like, oh, when she hugged the dog.

The question I keep asking myself is whether or not I’ve crossed some line of acceptable goofiness. Is this something I should embrace, or fight?

And that’s the main reason I thought of Donald Sutherland who, at the end of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, gives the audience a wonderfully ambiguous ending: Did he succumb to the pod people? Or was he just faking it?

I know the answer. His brain must have been sucked out.

I know this because about a week ago, I got home from work, plopped my keys on the counter, said hi to Martha, and put my computer on the table, greeted Lucy with a big hug and kiss. In a few moments, I was about to settle into my home routine in all the usual ways. A few moments later, Lucy was sitting on a little toy car, watching me fumble with mail.

And she said, “Love Dada!” Loudly, clearly, and sincerely.

I didn’t ask her to say it. I didn’t even know she could. And I gave that kid the biggest hug I could give her without causing injury. I could feel my personality getting suction-vacuumed right out of my head.

It’s true what they say: Resistance is futile.


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