A mystery, I am insufficiently prepared. I am awed and afraid, overcome by love and fear. I bring her home and there she is. When she cries, I cry. I wonder: how will I be a mommy to this baby? I read everything I can and try to meet every expectation. I follow all the baby rules (which later turn out to have been wrong). I over-sterilize, overthink, overcompensate for my weakenesses. I wash and scrub and make organic homemade babyfood. I try my hardest. I feel alone and inept. I try not to inflict any permanent damage.
Just when I think I get it, that I’ll be able to do it with ease- A preemie, born early, struggling to breathe. I know nothing – again. Her needs are a mystery. She is so tiny it scares me. When she cries, I cry and when I cry, her sister cries. I don’t know what I am doing, but we have to find our way. I dress her in doll clothes and learn to mommy two.
We are getting our groove when she arrives quietly and easily. Somehow she gently becomes a part of our busy lives and we’re learning to diaper with one hand while stopping a fall with the other. Life is frilly dresses and french braids, a full-sized family. If you can handle three little-bitties, you can handle anything. I am getting my sea legs, my mommy-groove.
The boy arrives. My deep and secret longing fulfilled. The boy turns our sweet pink world upside down. Everything is different with a baby boy: changing diapers, potty-training, you name it. How will I mommy a son? Whew! I am worn out.
The fifth and final is on her way. The pregnancy goes well. No surprises. I have been here before. The labor and delivery are picture-book perfect. The nurse comes in with a checklist of things I must demonstrate to her to prove I can care for her before they will let me take my baby home, things like nursing her, bathing her, changing her diaper. I have no strength to posture, but I ask the nurse, “How many children have you had?” She signs off on the checklist. I am learning everyday. I am becoming an expert in the care and feeding of babies. How will I mommy these perfect five? *Sigh.
One adult. Two. Three adults. Four. Five perfect adults and the ones they have married.
And again, I have no idea what I am doing. I feel alone, afraid. When they cry, I cry. I wonder: how will I mommy these adult children?