In church today, I was sitting behind my friend Jill as she held her newborn. I noticed all the women in front of her, beside her, behind her, and across the aisle from her staring at her baby with googly eyes. They were women from all seasons of life. Every one of them looked like someone had shot her with a oxycodone dart. They each had the same gooey-eyed expression and small satisfied smile on their faces. They each seemed to be silently sighing instead of listening to the lesson.
I admit: I was one of them.
Whaaaaat? I have four toddlers living in my house right now (adoption + IVF twins + my niece). I change 8+ poopy diapers per day. And, yet, I was one of the googly-eyed women.
Some of the women have grown children. They still stared. Some of the women have small children (ahem, me). They still stared. One of them women has NINE children. She still stared. Actually, she stared the most of all.
I can’t remember my babies being that small. I see the pictures, and it was only a year ago, but my body seems to have no memory of what it felt like to hold an eight-pound baby close. And I certainly don’t remember holding twin eight-pound babies close. Did it really happen? Was it all a dream? I try to hold Jill’s baby and my skinny arms and bony chest have no idea how to comfort him. I have rocked mine and held them and nursed (some of) them and cradled them, but I have no muscle memory of it.
It was the hardest time of my life. I slept 1-2 hours per night until I cracked. I experienced fear and isolation and despair and …. All I can remember is smelling their heads. Inhaling them.
What I know now is chubby toddler arms around my neck. Mashed avocado between chubby fingers every night. Sharp teeth biting into my collarbone. The floor under three highchairs that needs mopping three times a day. Anticipation at opening the twins’ door every morning to twins jumping in identical cribs with identical grins on their (not identical) fat faces. Toddle-running so fast that their cheeks wobble. Watching one twin be so overcome with love for a brother at mealtime that he has to stop eating just to rub his head on his brother’s head and say, “awwww”. The pep talk I give myself when I have to go get them up from naps (“You got this! You can do one more round!” and making a sound like a football player ending a huddle). Vacuuming while all four follow behind me, stepping on the cord, and imitating me (if, by “imitating me”, I mean: pretend-vacuuming with a duck while naked).
I am overwhelmed with hard work, love, exhaustion, and the terrifying passage of time. I am like every other mother in the world.
I am destined to be the googly-eyed lady for the rest of my life.