Dear Mr. Melissa Blake:
I’ll be honest, Sweetpea: You would have hated the person I was a few years ago. I was that woman. I chatted on my cell phone as I dashed through the supermarket, rolling my eyes and wondering why the little girl with the pigtails and pink puffy dress couldn’t move any faster. I even avoided the under-six set at church.
Even I hated me.
The plain truth: I didn’t want to have kids. I wanted a high-power career as a New York City magazine editor instead of a high-power position as president of the PTA. I wanted to be roused every Saturday by the morning sun sweeping through the nearby window and the smell of freshly brewed coffee instead of being jolted awake by shrieks from the next room or the smell of a not-so-fresh diaper. That’s how I viewed motherhood. Not a very flattering portrait, was it?
All the sippy-cup, Dr.-Seuss, bubble-bath fun? Well, I’d just leave that to the Mommy Bunch. I considered myself a Career Woman, and the two shall never meet.
It wasn’t that I grew up with horrible motherly role models. My childhood was quite the contrary, in fact. My mother threw herself into motherhood raising my younger sister and me. Herself a stay-at-home mom, the three of us spent our days rummaging through large piles of children’s book at the library or sitting on the banks of the nearby lagoon feeding the ducks. If anything, you’d think I’d want to be my mom, Part II. But one lap around my bedroom would reveal I’m no where close to filling her large shoes. My bookshelves are lined with writing books, various anthologies and the AP style manual; my mother’s shelves were lined with family health books and framed family photos. I keep cold cans of Coke in the fridge; she always had fresh juice boxes on hand, the plastic wrapper already removed from the straw, of course.
That all changed when I met a set of tiny triplets.
After years of trying to conceive, my mother’s coworker gave birth to their three bundles of joy. I visited them in the NICU, all curled up under a blanket and the overhead heat lamp. For some reason, I felt an instant connection with each of them. We continued to visit them every few months, first as content eight-month olds, then as clap-happy ten-month olds who could sit up.
Then one fall day in October, with orange and yellow leaves swirling in the front yard, my mom and I found ourselves on their doorstep. There was one of the triplets, his face and hands making homemade window clings on the front window. His mother opened the door with one hand as she steadied another one of the triplets on her hip. And the third little boy? He held tightly to her knee and buried his head in her jeans.
“Oh, I’m so sorry about the mess,” she chirped as we entered the living room.
Picture books dangled from the edge of the coffee table, a toy car had found its way smack dab in front of the fire place and small bags of Halloween treats lay strewn across the brown carpeting. I’ll admit I felt a bit out of place, almost as if I’d stepped into a room I didn’t quite belong in. A private club.
As I sat down, a bit nervous, the quieter of the three boys came over to the couch and proceeded to offer me his pacifier not once, but twice. I declined, naturally, picked up the picture book that lay next to me, and the two of us sat down for a little reading and relaxing.
“What’s that? A yummy pie,” I said as he pointed to a colorful picture.
“Oh, that’s a tri-an-gle,” I said, neatly sounding out each syllable of the word.
Was I really using what people call baby talk?
Over the next two hours, we (yes, me and three 18-month-olds) shared laughs, more books, strawberry Pez dispensed from a Jasmine dispenser (a big hit) and even shook and swiveled our hips to Shakira tunes.
I may have entered that house a cynical independent woman who had resigned herself to a life of spinsterhood, but I left a woman who, for the first time, could actually, perhaps, maybe see herself with a baby in her right arm instead of a cell phone clasped to her ear. Maybe someday, Sweetpea. What do you think? Until we meet… xoxo
P.S. More on how my disability will affect my having children later in the week… 🙂
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