Sometimes the stars align, and sometimes they collide.
And sometimes they do both at once.
We begin when Daughter Francesca and I get invited to speak at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., about our coming collection of the columns, which is titled Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim.
Francesca thought of the title, which is very funny unless you happen to be the emotional baggage.
That would be me.
I don't mind being her emotional baggage. On the contrary, I like being a big heavy thing she totes around, like a guilt backpack. Or something she drags behind her, a steamer trunk of doubts, worries, and strongly held beliefs based on no facts at all.
No mother wants to be a mere roller bag, or worse yet, a fanny pack.
At least not Italian mothers.
We leave it to others to say they don't want to burden their children. We think that's what children are for.
Faulkner had the right idea when he said, "The past isn't dead. It isn't even past."
And the great thing about emotional baggage is that even when I'm dead, I won't be dead. I hope Francesca will carry me around with her in her head, hearing my voice tell her to put the knives in the dishwasher with the pointy end down, or to run a background check on that guy she just met at the bar.
Half of my advice is good.
The other half is awesome.
So to stay on point, we get ready to leave for the National Book Festival, though we're both busy on book deadlines, and it's tax time, too. Because I'm self-employed, I pay taxes every quarter, which means I start hating my government four times a year, like the change of the seasons except none of them is pretty.
No amount of money I send my country seems to satisfy it, and both candidates for president pay less of a tax rate than I do, which reminds me that my country and my government are two different things. I would do anything for my country, but my government can cook its own dinner.
My kitchen's closed.
Anyway, not only are these two things occurring simultaneously, but then, as it happens, my little dog Peach became pregnant, on a date I fixed up. I bred Peach so I can keep her puppies, because as we know, I need more dogs. One of the many advantages to being a single, middle-aged woman is that nobody's around to save you from your own tomfoolery.
And if they were, I wouldn't listen.
But when I take Peach to the vet for a checkup, we learn that she is expected to deliver early, during the National Book Festival. Of course we feel instantly guilty, worried, and fearful, and we have instant emotional baggage from Peach, which may be the first recorded case of emotional baggage being transferred from dog to human, like a virus that jumps species. Still, we make arrangements to have Peach cared for and hit the road, which is when Francesca turns to me in the car.
"I'm worried," she says.
"Me, too. Poor little doggie."
"Agree, but I'm talking about me. I've never spoken in front of a large group before."
"Yes, you have, at bookstores."
"Not like this," Francesca says, and I realize she's right. We were scheduled to speak twice, in front of a thousand people each time, and in all my worrying about my doggie daughter, I had overlooked my real daughter. So I got my act together, gave her a big hug, and drove her to the festival, where I sat back while Francesca spoke so astoundingly well that I cried.
Someone said to me, "She's her mother's daughter."
And I said, "Thanks, but she's herself, and she's amazing."
(Because no one gives my daughter emotional baggage but me.)
And when we came home, Peach had given birth to three adorable puppies, all beautiful, healthy, and happy.
It was that kind of weekend.
Stars collided, then aligned. And I got to see my own special star shine, bathing me in her light, leaving me blissful and blessed.
There can be no greater pleasure, as a parent, than watching your child come fully into her own, taking all of her God-given talents and putting them to their most perfect use.
It's Mom Heaven.