True confession time—I didn’t really want to have a baby. I knew I was supposed to want to, but I didn’t. In fact, when I was expecting our first child, we signed up for prenatal classes and one of the things they had us do was write down a list of what we expected with the birth of the baby. Every single thing on my list was negative.
Every. Single. Thing.
Because childbirth to me was a mix of screaming terror and stirrups. And to be honest, I wasn’t really convinced I liked children. Plus I wasn’t even remotely ready. The last thing I remember, I was putting my permed hair into a banana clip, watching our wedding video on VHS when somehow, the ball must have gotten away from me, because the next thing I knew, my head was hanging over a garbage can and I only liked the taste of dirt. And I had no idea what else was coming; I just knew it was going to be horrible. And I also knew this; I was going to be the one who had to give birth here. There was no way out of it—NO WAY OUT OF IT—because believe me, I’d have FIGURED a way out of it if there was one!
And so yes, every single thing on my list was negative about having a baby. It was just something I was resigned to do, because I was a grown, married woman, and that’s what grown, married women do. But I didn’t have to like it.
You can imagine my surprise when a few months later, I held that beautiful boy in my arms and felt otherwise. So much otherwise, in fact, that I sat there in the baby’s room, holding him and rocking him and whispered to Sterling,
“I just love this baby so much.”
And he said, “But…?”
I replied, “No ‘but’. I just love this baby SO MUCH I CAN’T STAND IT!”
And it was true. I could hardly stand how much I loved that baby.
My only regret was that the children that followed would obviously never know that same love, because I was sure my heart was only capable of adoring one child that much. Thus, I would have to work hard at faking it, so that my other children never understood what a counterfeit life they were living.
Once again, imagine my surprise when my Grinchy heart broke the magnifying glass each time another child was born. For, just like air, there was ENOUGH LOVE FOR EVERYBODY to go around! Who knew?
Well, guess what folks? Those same children who gave me my Mother’s Heart are now responsible for destroying it. Yes. Turns out, the day comes when those children leave—for whatever reason—and a big, giant, metaphorical rolling pin and cookie cutter action takes place, wherein your heart is the dough and pieces are removed in the exact size and shape of the children you love, and when you go to remold and reshape, you’re left with a stupid, sloppy mess with gaping holes reminding you of what once was and will never be again. And you’re left to wander around in a stained nightgown, drinking Dirty Diet Cokes for breakfast, clutching at your chest trying to stop the excruciating pain.
Which leads me to my next point: “Emotional Shopping,” or what I like to call, “Mother’s Heart Filler Putty”. And because of that whole back story, I think you’ll agree with me that I had absolutely no choice but to use what could have been our children’s inheritance to self medicate. Because really, if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place.
I have found that every day is an emotionally centered day at Farmington Station, TJ Maxx, or when I place an order through Amazon Prime. And every time the doorbell rings, it’s kind of like meditating, because chances are, there is a brown box on my front porch holding something so special…so vitally important to my existence…that I have COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN WHAT IT WAS until the moment that I rip it open to find that it was JUST WHAT I NEEDED and another squirt of putty goes into my heart hole! Half the time, I’m just as surprised and delighted as my husband is. His wide eyes tell me it is so. Bless his heart, when I am happy, he is happy.
Some people—my husband—may ask how long this will last. The answer is, “I don’t know.” Because who can put a price tag on a person’s emotional well being? The answer is “My husband.” Also the credit card company. So apparently, there is some sort of time and monetary limit here. But hopefully, the chasm is filled before I reach that vague and unsettling point.
In the meantime, if you see something you think I might like—shoes, purses, convertible Jaguars, whatever—send me the link or just go ahead and buy it for me and I’ll pay you for it later…just as soon as I figure out how to cash out these savings bonds.