Then my 2-year-old got his arm stuck in my husband’s didgeridoo. The better part of an hour later, his arm was still stuck and the proverbial end of my rope was fraying fast. I was carrying him around with his arm wedged into a four-foot-long wooden cylinder, trying to reassure him that Mommy was going to find a way get him unstuck. Instead, Mommy came unstuck. Suffice it to say I did not pass the Philippians 4:8 test.
If you have a bed in your office, which I do—a crib, actually—then it’s not an office. I also have blocks, toy cars, a tent to play camping, a castle with two dragons, and about 700 stuffed animals. My home office, like those of so many work-at-home parents, is the hub from which I run all my many lives: worker, mother, wife, self.
Henrietta Lacks isn’t exactly a household name, but ask any scientist who works in any capacity with cells and cell lines, and HeLa is almost as ubiquitous as oxygen. That these ubiquitous, “immortal” cells came from somewhere—specifically, from an African American woman named Henrietta Lacks—is the story of this book, along with the stories of Henrietta’s family, friends, and the amazing HeLa cell line that lives on in cell culture labs around the world.
Anne Rice, whose Interview with the Vampire (1976) and subsequent Vampire Chronicles have established her as the premier vampire-centric storyteller of this generation, believes the creatures continue to fascinate because we see something of ourselves in them. “The vampire is a monster who preys on his brothers and sisters, but loves them and needs them emotionally as well as physically,” she says.
I realize that invoking a philosopher to stop a tantrum flies directly in the face of one of my parenting goals—that of helping my children, these products of two overeducated and consistently over-thinking parents, blend in with everybody else. But my commitment to that goal is fading. I’d rather my children be who God created them to be, encompassing not only their unique gifts and talents and personhoods, but where and when they were born, and yes, even who their parents are. And when this mother’s back is against the wall, I know my Renaissance philosophers better than I know my Dr. Spock, or T. Berry Brazelton, or even Dr. Sears.