One of my resolutions is to write more. I follow a writing prompt account on Twitter, and I decided to dedicate time every day to writing from the day's prompt. I feel it will be a good way for me to stretch my fingers and practice a little every day, much like Amanda practices her musical instruments. Bottom line is, more we do it the better we get.
I also figured I could publish what I write if the mood strikes me, as it would be a good opportunity to get the blog running again, even if no one reads it anymore. Just putting it out there helps me to feel a little more responsible with my writing. So without further ado, here is today's assigned writing...
Prompt: A baby isn't quite what it seems.
A baby enters the world slimy and gross, sometimes bloody sometimes covered in white goop. It is a useless glob of flesh unable to talk, walk, or even communicate other than to cry. Even then you have to learn what each cry means - it could be hungry, hurt, tired, gassy, or just bored. You spend your time learning the damn cries, wiping up copious amounts of shit and piss, bathing the helpless, slimy, wiggly creature, and waking up every hour in the night to feed it. When you leave the house you have to make sure you carry a bag stuffed with every fucking thing you can think of - basically the entire nursery in a bag that can fit in the basket under the stroller. Diapers, wipes, ass cream, at least two changes of clothes, formula, bottles, burp rags, a blanket, and toys. Sometimes you stay in the house for days because all the fuss and stress of a successful trip to the outside world feels too overwhelming and you’d rather stay home.
One day you are holding your baby, watching a TV show about neglected orphaned children in Armenia, and you begin to cry. You hold her a little closer, kiss her head once or twice, and crying turns to sobbing as you see images of eight-year-olds the size of toddlers because they have been ignored for years.
Even though she wakes you up every hour on the hour during the night, you can’t sleep anyway. You are terrified this tiny creature will stop breathing, will somehow roll over onto her side and suffocate, or will spit up and choke to death. You find yourself rocking her at 2:00 in the morning after a feeding, sleep-deprived and sobbing because you don’t know how you will make it through the next eighteen years.
A baby is not quite what it seems. It isn’t the wiggly lump of flesh you have to keep alive. She is a portal to your vulnerability - the complete, unobstructed pathway straight to the core of the deepest fears you never realized you had. There is no preparation for this understanding. There are no explanations or warnings from mothers before you. This is something that a mother can only learn on her own, after her own dip into the baptismal font of childbirth.
Last night as my two babies, Amanda and Brandon, and I sat around the table to celebrate the change into the new year, it occurred to me that in three years, my eldest will be eighteen. Fifteen years ago as I sat with her cradled in my arms in the middle of the night, sobbing about the terrifying prospect of eighteen years of motherhood. I have since learned that motherhood will stretch far beyond the years of adulthood. My babies will forever be that portal to my vulnerability; I will forever ache for their safety and happiness.
Babies are not what they seem. Sometimes they are toddlers who need a sippy cup. Sometimes they are third graders who need help with a school project. Sometimes they are teenagers beginning to lose their downy feathers in preparation for the beautiful plumage they will need to fly away. Whatever their ages, our babies are the embodiment of our hearts, the personification of our deepest love.