A Welcoming. An Amputation.

By March 29, 2013 Blog No Comments
Parts

Tonight, I am tired. I haven’t seen my husband in weeks, and the weight of my responsibility is heavy right now, so heavy that when I tucked my youngest in to bed and closed her door, I didn’t even pause at the tiny voice that called out “Mom? I’m not tired.” I just kept walking and called behind me, “Hush, and lay quietly. You’ll fall asleep soon.” By the time I got to the living room, I felt guilty. I’m worn out on guilt. I glanced down the hall to her bedroom and thought about what I would do if I weren’t so tired, if I didn’t have a lesson to write up for class and half dozen emails to send out before morning. I thought about climbing in to bed with her, about telling her how she was born in the middle of winter, but that day it had been sunny. I would tell her how I had been nervous and excited and that the labor and delivery was quick and easy. I was confident, having two other children at home, but she was different. She cried a lot, all day and all night. I nursed her around the clock; it was the only thing that would soothe her. She was a sensitive baby, to light, clothes, sound. Everything would startle her, and she was quick to anger and very stubborn. She refused to wear socks for the first year of her life, always rubbing her tiny feet together until she worked them off. I would tell her how her sister and brother doted on her, sharing toys, whispering in her tiny ears, petting her dark hair, and how her father would walk the kitchen tile every night, holding her just right, singing Tom Waits until she fell asleep. I would tell her how much she loved babies and strollers, tomatoes, and her pink blanket, Mimi. How our family was fuller with her in it, and how one day, she would know the sorrow and joy of motherhood. How the birth of her own daughter would feel more like an amputation than a welcoming, and how she would forever find herself mourning an invisible loss. I would tell her that to be a woman is to be complicated. We are hardwired to carry and nourish, to provide oceans of love, but we will suffer for it. I would tell her that after her body empties her new child into her arms, she will spend the rest of her life trying to fill it back up, and when her child grows too long and too lean to cradle, her arms will become a nuisance, a strange and foreign burden to her body. I would tell her that to make her children her purpose in life would be a dangerous mistake because no matter how much she loves them, and she will love them like she has never loved, they won’t stay. They can’t. And one day, she will stand outside the bedroom door of her youngest baby, who is not so young anymore, and she will be tired and she will be overwhelmed, and she will want nothing more than to crawl under the covers of her own warm bed, but she will pull herself together, and she will instead climb into the bed of her daughter, and she will rub her back, and she will sing to her, and she will give every bit of energy she has left to this child because it will be the only thing she has left to give, and she won’t be ready to stop giving. She just won’t be ready. Not yet.

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