I have had a thousand babies

Not just the one you see there. Not just that one, that rambunctious boy.

The ones I babysat as a teen. For whom I fixed my first Kraft mac and cheese. Who cried when I wouldn’t be hired back, after my hopscotch rock zigged instead of zagged and shattered the family car windshield.

That girl in college that my boyfriend got pregnant. And they named it after me, my middle name. The mom didn’t know. That was my baby. Should have been.

My friend who dropped out a year later, and I brought her a onesie and formula. I had no clue, but when I held that perfection, I wanted it to be mine. so perfect and sweet.

My sister after that. The age many thought I should have had one. I held that baby and thought, this is beautiful. I am not ready.

So much a blur after that. The pill, and no worries. Caution to the wind. Little did I know I needed no such protection. The wrap of twisted scar tissue around my insides like a strangling tendril.

Like clockwork. Even off the pill. Engaged. Once, twice, a third time. Nobody really ready though, including me.

Finally ready. And nothing. Rejected again and again.

The class reunion. “You ain’t got no babies? Oh girl, you need to have some babies!”

Science. Luck. Alternative medicine. Breath held and watch-timed in the wee hours. Thousands spent and body a pin cushion.

A plus sign.

That doesn’t happen, unless…

And that boy, roaring in, crashing into my life. Tearing it apart.

Ok.

I am your mom, now. I got this.

I am everyone’s mom.

I am all of their moms.

Wow.

The girl at the water park who was lost. Who asked me for help with her life jacket, and then to help find her actual mom.

The ones who talk to me. In line at a restaurant. At a store. I see you. I hear you. I got you.

The ones who need a little extra somebody to watch at the park because their parent isn’t seeing the cool the thing you are doing. I see it. It’s super cool. You are the bomb.

The ones who mistake me for their mom at the playground, just for a minute until I turn around. You are my child.

The ones who beg me to sit next to them at lunch when I am the mystery reader at my son’s school. You could be one of those two embyos I had to let go. It could have just as easily have been you. I love you, too.

I pull you back from the street. I yell at you that you should know better when you misbehave. You are also my child.

All of you.

I’m so proud I get to be your mom, too.

I love you.

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