When last we were in the Emerald City, I abruptly realized that Ruth and Nora have almost certainly showed their family and friends pictures of me (with Cricket) from the day I gave birth. This horrifies me for no rational reason—okay, I looked terrible, but I had a pretty decent excuse.
The realization came when we were driving somewhere and Nora stopped to say hello to a friend of theirs who was out raking leaves. The friend said “Hi, Ruth and Nora! Hi Cricket! Hi Mr. Book! Hi Susie!” My husband has no idea who this woman is; they’ve never met. (I met her while pregnant, so am able to focus on how weird this is for him rather than having it be weird for me.) I assume that this lady—I’ll call her Alice—that Alice had seen pictures of the Mister with Cricket, and that Ruth had said something like “And here is Cricket with his birthdad, Mr. Book.” That is totally reasonable and non-boundary crossing . . . so why did it feel so gross when we met her in the car? My best guess is that at least for me, it was a reminder that I don’t and won’t (at least for the next seventeen years) have any private time or experiences with Cricket. One consequence of being part of their lives instead of central figures in his is that they (again, so far and for the foreseeable future) run and in some senses own the experiences we have with Cricket. And they can do whatever they like with them.
There is one other piece to this story: Mr. Book could have known who Alice was. There were a couple of months when Ruth labeled the people in the pictures she shared with us online, and Alice was among the people holding Cricket during that time period. But Mr. Book doesn’t look at the pictures unless I bully or trick him into it. Sure, maybe he wouldn’t have remembered at the critical moment—but it didn’t need to be quite as one-sided as it was. We’ve never met Ruth’s sister, but if she happens to wander into the room on a visit, I will know who she is because I look at the pictures. My husband won’t.