"It's the biggest decision of your life," my friend said, "but you don't realize it at the time." I was helping her fold her
laundry, relating some art world gossip ("He said he would bring his wife, and I was expecting a woman.") We had been laughing, but the conversation turned suddenly serious.

"You're right," I said, "but it didn't seem like a decision to me at the time. I always knew I wanted to have children." It had been a different era.

Other decisions. (The first night Jim kissed me. I was surprised he was still speaking to me after I served him that strange chicken.

Paul standing on the steps of some monument or other in Washington. Hot sweaty summer day. I was wearing a black linen dress. He still corresponded with my Mother every year at Christmas. "Paul is on sabbatical in Florence. Paul sent me a copy of his new book." My daughter could have been married to an art history professor instead of living in a basement in Berkeley, my Mother meant.)

"I didn't realize it was a twenty-four hour job or expect that biological tie. The tug at my heart strings every time she cries," my friend said.

"Nobody realizes what a change it makes in your life," I said.

"You did try to tell me," she said.

"Nobody ever thinks it was a mistake either," I said. I can't imagine what life would be like if I hadn't had Sean."

"Easy for you to say," she said. The pile of folded baby blankets beside us was getting higher. My son is in college now she meant, and her daughter is producing dirty laundry. "The only work I've done this year are the paintings for her walls. - PAINTINGS !!

"I painted teddy bears on Sean's crib," I said.

"So what was his wife like? " she asked.

"Airline steward. About twenty-five. Blond. Cute guy."

"Good for him," we said almost in unison. (just like the old days) Upstairs the baby began to cry.



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