During my teen years and for most of my adult life, I pledged not to have children. I was fine helping other folks’ kids in whatever way I could, but I did not want, or need, a Little Me. One crazy day in my 30s, however, I forgot this long enough to begin to pine for my own baby, and the feeling, despite what I did to assure myself it was a passing fancy– a trick of the body– lingered.
Well, I became a mother in “advanced maternal age”—36—and it has been simultaneously the most joyous and challenging thing I have ever done; what is even more overwhelming is the understanding that this is a lifetime role, not something I can shed and move on from when I feel tired, fulfilled, afraid. There have been, admittedly, a few occasions when I wondered how in the world I lost my sanity long enough to risk getting pregnant, to have a baby when I had done just fine in the world without the added responsibility of motherhood. At the drug store today, as I ran after Solomon ducking in and out of aisles, an elderly man grinned at me and said, “Well, you wanted him.”
I laughed because I couldn’t decide whether my retort should be a snappy “And I still do.” or, “How do you know?”
Tonight, after feeling like my forehead was going to split open if I heard my son cry one more time, I tiptoed into his dimmed room to retrieve my sleeping cap, hoping to remain undetected. I left bursting with new gratitude for his life-filled body.
When he asked me to “Come here, Mommy,” I forced down my agitation and obeyed. I bent down over the dark space separating my face from his.
“Stay, Mommy.” His voice was as soft and sweet as an angel’s, melting all remaining irritation.
“I can’t, honey. But you know I love you, right?”
“I wove you, too, Mommy.”
“I love your sweet heart inside your chest,” I said, rubbing the white t-shirt over his small, warm chest. “It’s a good heart.”
“Your heart good, too, Mommy.”
“I love your smart brain inside your head.” I ran my fingers back and forth across his forehead.
His eyes began to flutter with sleep.
“I love your kinky brown hair. Such pretty hair.”
He rubbed his cropped mane.
“I love your ears, I love your big brown eyes.”
“Big brown eyes?” he asked.
“Yes,” I answered. “Those are two adjectives to describe your beautiful eyes.”
He took the thumb and forefinger of his right hand to pull his right eyelid down, trying to feel the bigness and the brownness, I presume.
“I love your skin—so brown and smooth. Just like chocolate candy. Yum. Yum. Yum.” I pretended to eat his elbow.
“I love those nice fat cheeks.”
He pinched said cheeks and closed his eyes contentedly.
He held out his arm. “Eat the chocolate, Mommy,” he commanded.
Again, I obeyed, blessing his flesh with light kisses. (Later I will have to explain cannibalism and hope that our little game has not damaged him in any way.)
“Thank you, God, for Solomon,” I said.
“Thank you, God, for Mommy,” he said, and his eyes closed for the final time to me and the night.
Happy Mother’s Day, ladies!!!