We’ve been talking a lot about babies, the girls and I. Not Christian and I, because that baby ship has sailed, let me tell you.
Claire is adamant that she wants “an adopt-a-baby.” Apparently it’s like something you can just pick up from the local mall. Stuff it with stuffing, pick out a dress, and give it a name. If only it were that easy. When my grandmother was a girl, she remembers her mother wanting a boy so badly, that she was ready to just go get her one, back in the days when one really could just want into an orphanage and pick out the newest member of their family. She never did though, because #6 was her boy, and that’s my reigning argument against Christian’s “#4 will be a boy” theory. Because I’m definitely not going all the way to 6.
“Some women can’t have babies?” she asks. I wonder where her curiosity comes from, but then I don’t. She’s my little mother, my caretaker to sound cliche. She’s always quick to the side of a sad classmate or sister, stroking hair or rubbing backs, and she adores babies of all kinds.
I know in this case, she’s thinking of Ellie from the movie Up, and the scene where she learns she can’t have children. So I try to explain that no, some women can’t have babies, because their bodies work differently, so they adopt babies that don’t have homes. And then we’re back to the shopping mall version of Adopt-A-Baby.
In the dark of their room at night, I’m asked to tell the story of when they were born. I usually go through the CliffsNotes version to save time and possible freak outs. You and Sissy were both in my tummy at the same time, side by side, and I got reeeeeally big. Then the doctors needed to take you out because I was sick. And you were so small, so very small, that you lived in the hospital for five weeks. But I went to visit you every day.
“And you held us?” Yes. “And you rocked us?” Yes. “And we cried because we missed you.” Well…you actually slept most of the time, but whatever.
I get a slight pang when I see a baby. Slight. At the preschool I’m surrounded by mothers in that particular stage of life of juggling strollers and toddlers, or wearing tiny babies on their chests while they walk their little ones into the building. Part of that ache says, Yes! You want another! Look how cute and sweet and sleepy it is! But the other part says, HELL TO THE NO! LOOK AWAY! LOOK AWAY! And that’s the part that I know will win out because I’m ready for everyone to just be done with having babies already so we can move on with our lives. I’m content with now being the “mom of older kids” compared to those still in the trenches of babydom, even if my kids are only a blink and a half older. I’m done. No more high chairs, swings, bouncers. We’re weeding out the board books and the baby toys as the donation trucks come around.
So I give the other parents knowing smiles because it wasn’t that long ago that I was herding two 3-year-olds down these same halls while carrying an 18-month-old because she refused her stroller.
But it also seems like forever ago.