Sunday, January 10, 2016

Mother



She might wake me at 2a.m., then 5a.m., then again at 8a.m. If she wants to talk and I'm too tired, I push aside my pillow and plop her between her sleeping daddy and me, a burp cloth beneath her head. "Baby in the bed." I warn. We push down the blanket and sheet and nose her cheeks until we three again meet sleep. When we wake later, he has disappeared, gone off to work, but the dog's ears appear, her tail all a' waggin', as soon as we start our morning babblin'. If I wake first, I read. If she wakes first, she tells the plant above our heads that she's very happy to be alive and if sweet sunlight gushes in, then she kicks her feet in jubilation. When we discover that the other is awake, we smile a lot: she with her one stub of a first tooth, me with my mouth full of flat pearls. We coo and cuddle and chew the baby fat. I kiss her pink cheeks and beneath her ears because I am also happy to be alive and because I have the urge to taste her as soon as I smell her perfect pungent skin. If I could inhale harder, I would. I pull down my top, unfurling my fullness and she lunges, latches, and suckles a morning meal of milk. Once she's done and it's late enough, I grab my glasses, roll out of bed and head for the bathroom. I pee, turn on the tap, then water and lotion my face. I go to the kitchen, drink water, eat a little breakfast or carry one back to bed where she's thrilled to see me, showing me her tooth once again. I lift her from beneath the arms, kiss her three or four more times, then carry her to the changing table where I strip, clean and dress her, all the while singing something like, "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let her shine..." I lay her back down on the bed and dress myself in soft stretchy pants, a clean tank top and a sweater. I retrieve the baby carrier, my boots and wool hat. I wrap her for winter: layer upon absurd layer of fleece, wool and cotton polyester. She fusses and so I put a pacifier in because she can't get her hands into her mouth once I have put mittens on her fragile fingers, and if she can't get at least four fingers into her mouth and she wants to, she becomes very upset. Soon, the combination of warm clothes and suckling causes her eyes to swivel sleepily left and right as if she were reading books on the wall. I put on my socks and boots. I strap her into the carrier. I clasp the harness and leash onto the excited dog (who can hardly sit still). And finally, we are out on the river road, bike path, sidewalks, fields, farms and in the woods. We wander, saunter and stride. I sing songs, say prayers, talk to the baby, scold/praise the dog, or I might just mute myself so that I can hear the breath of the earth beneath my boots and the music above my hat. Baby usually sleeps, though sometimes she stares up at me and the trees.

Later at home, I make coffee, while she lies on the rug beside the kitchen, practicing her growls, screams, trills and vowels. Or she'll find a sleeve or toy to gum with her dripping mouth of drool.

I've wanted to be a mother for so long and now that I am I can't help but feel a strange sort of guilt for being home, for not working. It feels as if the eyes of feminism are frowning upon me, but I'm happy and so I think the whole fear of a feminist trying to fight me is silly. Besides I've never felt more empowered by my womanhood than after birthing my baby, and that's what I'd tell her. That and: my beautiful body made another beautiful body! Yes, I wear aprons and burp cloths, seeped spots of breast milk, strings of bubbled drool and splashes of spit up. I write grocery lists, letters, cards and stories. I draw baths and little penciled pictures. I fold laundry and damp risen dough. I wash dishes and the ledges of windows. I read paper pages and digital recipes. But this is my choice. I want to be home. I like it here. I get all the fresh air I want. And time, so much time. Time to lay on the floor reading cardboard books, shaking rattles, playing Raffi's Baby Beluga on my guitar, dancing. Time to listen to birds in the bushes, the Winter wind and the near silence of my infant's sleep. Time to stop in a sunbeam while light pricks the centers of my pores, sprouting gratitude. We don't have an excess of money, but we don't really mind. We are not hungry or cold, but happy and generously clothed. We possess a beautiful wealth: one fuller than any billionaire's bank vault. It can't buy lavish gifts in boutique boxes or clothing from foreign factories folded into large paper bags, but I have the present as if it were wrapped around me like an invisible flower bow tied around my middle. I'll catch my career later. There's time enough for that too. I've wanted to be a mother for so long and now that I am, it's important that I ignore the supposed/invented thoughts of others. This is what I've decided anyways.

I am no longer a traveler, a reveler or social mixer. Right now, I am mostly just Mother and I don't mind that title at all.