On that sunny day in the park, he appeared like he had it all figured out — this parenting thing. Behind him, a Mima Xari Stroller to hold his precious cargo; on his back, a leather diaper bag to carry a cashmere blankie. In his arms, the perfect baby. At his side, the perfect wife. He did something with hedge funds, she knew this for certain. She would see him every morning on the same 6:00am train as she was coming home from her hospital night shift. She was just a nurse whose scrubs were covered in vomit and viruses…
There’s no going back — once you become a mother.
There’s no unseeing every child as your own.
You cannot bandage your aching heart as you watch a child in pain.
That second glass of wine will never taste as good.
You’ll never sleep soundly again.
Fireworks will send shockwaves of anxiety through your body, and local news will keep you up all night.
Your body never be the same — once firm, now soft pillow for rest.
And you won’t be able to stop a smile from tugging at your lips when you see a child learn something new.
I love you so much it hurts.
I feel the immense weight of my love for you. It pushes me down. It crushes me.
What will I do when you grow up? Who will I become?
I might shrivel up and die.
Because I feel we are still just one being. My heart still beats in synch with yours.
But we were never just one, were we? Three hearts. Three brains. You were always your own beings. I just kept you safe inside me.
I can’t do that any longer and it terrifies me. How will I keep you safe…
An icy gust burned his weather-beaten cheeks. Under his skin, redness poked through. Like a ripe berry drooping on a low bush nearly touching the ground. Up and down the asphalt he walked. Up and down. Zigzagging between traffic. Shoulders sore. Nails brittle. Bits and pieces of last night’s dinner caught between the hairs on his chin. It had still been hot when the BMW driver threw it out of his car. A crinkled up fast-food bag, soaked in grease. But the chicken sandwich was half-eaten. And it tasted good.
Just like the other greasy piece of meat someone threw…
Golden hour never looked so beautiful, she thought as warm, ginger sunlight haloed around the emerald firs and cobalt waters of Puget Sound. In the distance, snow-peaked mountains jutted into the sky.
She was the lone person sitting on the rocky shoreline that evening. She only had twenty minutes or so before she’d have to leave to meet the girls for cocktails at some expensive downtown restaurant. She’d forgotten the name, and had vowed not to look at her phone until the sun had set. Not even to take a photo. She didn’t have much storage left anyway from all…
A sliver of sunlight sneaks its way under the bedroom door, waking her. Beside her, a tiny, warm body stirs. She’d done it again. What all the judgmental experts say not to do; what the dogmatic breastfeeding activists say to do. She’s torn — she desperately needs sleep, but her heart breaks at the thought of letting her baby cry. She’s not sure how to fix it; it doesn’t matter anyway — she doesn’t have time to think about this issue. They’re up and at ’em. And today will be a long one, just like the day before.
Beeping from the heart monitor remains steady. She’s awake, mentally alert. She can see the faces of her loved ones surrounding her. She can feel the tears plop from their eyes onto her blanketed legs. Her children. Her grandchildren. Her sisters. Her husband. They all look upon her — their hands sending warmth to her hands, her arms.
It’s almost time now.
Knowing this day was coming, she’s been saying her goodbyes for days. She’s nearing the end.
They know she loves them. And she knows they love her. She’s told them a million times over the years.
What was it like living through a pandemic? you’ll ask me one day.
By then, I’ll probably forget most of this. I won’t remember the little details. I’ll only remember the feeling that stuck to my skin, penetrating my bones, rearranging my DNA to change me (and therefore you) on a cellular level.
I’ll tell you that your dad and I were lucky. We were safe in our cozy, little home with our verdant, little backyard in our friendly, little neighborhood, just minutes away from our loving family members. We were able to work and manage life remotely. I wrote…
I must confess a secret: I love that I’ve got you all to myself, my babies. Call me greedy, but I’m glad no one else can feel your kicks and jabs, your ticklish wiggles and stop-me-in-my-tracks rolls. Everywhere I go, all day long, I feel you moving right along with me. I never feel alone.
I rejoice knowing where you are at all times, getting to choose what you’re eating and drinking. I know you’re safe and sound. One day, I won’t be privy to this information. One day, my sweets, I’ll have to let you go.
But for now…
I refuse to believe what the news articles say.
That my children’s lives will be worse than their parents’ lives.
That I’m bringing children into a world that is crumbling, burning, ruined.
That there is no hope left.
Instead, I believe that my children’s generation will be more compassionate than any generation that’s ever come before them.
Born into a country full of division, they will learn how to unite, how to speak openly and effectively, how to listen.
Born into a country saddled with trillions of dollars of debt, innumerable problems, they will learn grit and resiliency. …