Itís amazing how easy it is to forget what a miracle parenthood is. We often lose sight of how many people chase this dream of conceiving a child whom they can love and care for, of how painful it is when this dream eludes them and how wonderful when they finally have it in their grasp.
But Francesca Lia Block hasnít forgotten. In Guarding the Moon: A Motherís First Year, Block (author of Weetzie Bat and Dangerous Angels) tells her own true story of how she finally became a mother, and how magical it seemed when her daughter entered her life. A late-in-life mother, Block suffered two miscarriages before conceiving her daughter, so she is acutely aware of what a miracle the childís birth is.
She seems constantly in awe of her daughter, alternately referred to by a series of nicknames like Bambina, Bebe and, of course, the Moon. Itís easy to see how, for Block and many other mothers, holding your own child is like embracing the moon, a luminous unfathomable object.
Block is especially reverent of the bond between mother and child. Despite the pain it causes her, she loves the bond of breastfeeding. She winces in pain every time her little one falls. When Block is overcome by a series of colds, she laments at having to have her husband or mother watch the baby.
In lush, lyrical language, Block outlines all the joys and anxieties of the early stages of motherhood. She struggles to eat the right foods to provide nourishing milk, and fears passing on her insecurities and fears to her child. But seldom have these things seemed so poetic. Block has a gift for making her life seem charged with the magical realism of a fantasy tale.
I could have stood for things to be a tad more earthbound (Block makes even sleepless nights and dark circles under the eyes sound poetic, and they are clearly not), but I guess there will be time enough for that when her little Moon is a teenager who rejects her motherís meals of avocado and tofu in favor of hot dogs. While her child is still young, thereís plenty to swoon over, and Block swoons quite well.