I knew that I always wanted children. It wasn't something I thought about a lot, it just was, kind of like breathing. It only became top of mind when I had trouble doing it. Numerous Doctors and lots of money later, I was lucky enough to have my own 2 kiddos.
When I was pregnant, I read every book I could get my hands on. What was going on in there? I could never seem to get enough information. So, it didn't seem too far fetched to think that I kind of knew what was going to happen, and what to expect, ya know, being a mother and all...
While the basic science of what was going on in my body was laid out pretty straightforwardly, the experience with the resulting human being was sugar coated to the extreme, in my opinion. Yeah, there was the love. The kind of love you've never felt before. Better than first love. Better than great sex. It was real love, the love, and that was kind of that. There were the other books that dealt with the physical idiosyncrasies of the small that you brought home, for example, the freaky Moro reflex that makes all infants look like Uncle Fester stepping on a banana peel. But, not one book dealt with the shocking fact that you were actually allowed to bring this strange creature home. Alone.
I mean, for me, I had no idea what to do. It didn't matter that I'd read all the damn books. I just knew that I was responsible for this tiny person. I felt like I worked in a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and that someone had just handed me a, er, let's say a mongoose, and told me, "Keep it alive." And how, pray tell, do I do that? This mongoose is so needy and so fragile. Surely I'm going to fuck this up and break it.
It is true, the baby was kind of cute. I knew I was supposed to love it, so I felt some sort of attachment (the thing had grown inside my body). But, the truth is, I felt scared more than anything. I kept on wondering when someone was going to walk through the door and say, "Just kidding!" and take the poor pathetic babe away and really take care of it.
I spent a lot of time those first few weeks feeling awfully guilty. Clearly I was a horrible mother. No one talked about feeling like I was feeling. It was all supposed to be animated birds, yummy love. There was something very, very wrong with me.
And then, almost miraculously, one day something happened...
I was sitting, staring at my son, pondering what I needed to do next to keep him alive, and he smiled. Look, I know he was too young for it to be a real smile, but he looked at me and felt a gas bubble in his belly simultaneously, which resulted in a sort of wince which sort of looked like a smile. And, in the same way I am SURE that my dog smiles when I scratch his belly just right, I knew that my kid was smiling at me. Somehow my son knew it was ME -- the big, out of focus whale that comforted him when he cried, who changed his diaper and fed him. I was his whale. And he smiled (or had gas) at ME!
Then, ladies and gentlemen, I knew of what people spoke. I was done.