I love babies. Love them! Love holding and nuzzling them, love degrading myself in any manner necessary to elicit their smiles. I love their coos and bleats, their purrs and whinnies. I love the urgency of their hunger cries and their dramatic tongue undulations and lip quivers when the milk doesn’t come quickly enough; as if they will literally perish if you withhold the goods for one second more. I love watching them learn and study the world, and I love feeling them burrow into my chest and arms when sleep is a foregone conclusion.
Babies warm me from the inside out. They are so simply complex: meet their elemental needs, and you are rewarded with a front-row seat at an incredible cabaret. In that promise, though, lies enormous responsibility and commitment. A bargain that I happily made – twice! – but do not wish to make again. A contract I was lucky to have a say in and one I have never been so gratefully sure to have left behind as I am now.
On their second night here, after we’d enjoyed a marvelous meal and were all tucked into our respective beds, my husband, Tom, turned to me with concern in his eyes and asked, “Is this making you want a third child?”
“Heavens to Betsy, NO!” I nearly shouted back, and with an assured immediacy that surprised even me.
So, I got down on the floor next to him and sang a ridiculous song. He beamed and flirted, and I behaved in all manner of idiotic ways to keep the smiles coming. We locked eyes, and lost in the depths of his, I felt again the fierce love and commitment inherent in the responsibility of caring for a dependent child. I remembered all the minutes, hours, days spent on the floor with my boys. In the library, playroom and mommy-and-me groups. I remembered the walks and the sleepless nights and the nursing and the boundless love. I felt so happy and lucky to be a mother, but was also sure that my well is not bottomless.
Paul cooed again, bringing me back into the present, and I knew, with utter certitude, that I did not, do not, have one more round of mothering in me.
For me, ‘wasn’t’ came at about the time my youngest turned two. One night I declared that if I didn’t have some time of my own to dedicate to something of my own, I simply might burst. I started a blog, and repeatedly, sometimes daily, since, have felt tremendous gratitude for that space. It is endlessly restorative and educational. It has enabled me to document the miles I’ve traveled since its inception, as well as all I’ve learned about myself on that journey.
My children ushered me into my blog, into writing my way through our world. Writing helps me process the ways in which being a mother exceeds and falls short of the expectations I had of it. It helps me vent and learn and better understand myself and my experiences in the weeds of mom. I am a better mother because of writing, just as I am a better writer and person because I am a mother. A mother of two.
What’s left is for me. For me, my marriage, my life and all that lies ahead.
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