Appetitus Rationi Pareat

20 Feb

Oh the guilty stolen afternoon, snuck quietly from the house, stolen to read a surprisingly awesome book (I love it so when that happens-when you buy it thinking, meh, why not, and suddenly you’re drawn in and the world is being colored around you..) The late February wind gusts around me, while puddles of new snow trickle beneath my feet. I can smell spring.

Fishing through the old clothes, I sigh a lot, all the cute things are just that much too small. We’ve grown past it. I finish eating my leisurely lunch, and while waiting for the cashier, spy a tiny boy, only 3 months, cradled in his mother’s arms as he has his lunch, eyes swollen with lunch stupor. His feet were so very small.

I’m on the bus when a little girl comes on, bundled in winter, cheeks rosy, her perfect little nose poking out, eyes curious and watchful. She stares at me with the no-stare. I’m fairly confident that I’m too far away from her to be really seen, but there’s something about those piercing little globes, like jelly beans or black jujubes.

My entire body cascades in on itself and cries out for more. My arms ache, my womb echoes for a child, my body feels drawn. My children are now children in the fullest sense of the word, and my body, my muscles, my soul shakes in the absence.

The simple unfair fact of knowing this ache after the birthing is complete. It startles me, like a cat shook from it’s sleep, and it angers me, that I couldn’t have felt this 6 years ago, blooming with the cells that would eventually become my first born daughter. Why not then? Why not when I could have reveled in every moment, enjoyed, simply stood in between maidenhood and mother, and accepted it, embraced it? Why only now, when the over is unplugged and in pieces?

I enjoyed the last 5 years. It has been a hard ride, a rough one, the brambles of mental illness entwined with simple achievements like first words (I can’t remember Rosalyn’s, and hope I wrote it down) and birthdays. But these years have been so innocent, comparatively speaking, as I’m noticing now that I have one in school. Those first 5 are halcyon days, glowing with such wonder, fabulous flowers on a plant you always found ugly. I eagerly sold the high chair, the crib, gave away 99.5% of the baby clothes. I welcomed, with open arms, toddlers, preschoolers, and now, children.

So universe, why now huh? Why burden me with a hunger I can never satiate? Why fill me up with this longing, for another child to grow in my belly, another gasp at the quickening, the terror of crowning and the quietude of 4am? Why bestow this gift on me now, after all this time, when its unnecessary, and more than a little inappropriate?

I stared hard at that little girl’s eyes, smiling wistfully, looking a little high I imagined. I could feel that baby skin on my fingertips, the porcelain of it, the chubby fingers grasping on their own, without measure or wit. I could imagine her weight on my hip, the little sighs she’d make while feeding, her tiny thumb, barely clinging to her lips as she slept.

In her eyes I imagined enjoying the babyhood’s of my daughters more completely, sanely.

Wanting a child is merely my wish for wanting to be normal.

Having Rosalyn so soon after Vivian stole that from me. And I can breathe now, and see that, see that for Vivian, I was scared, and worried and full of far too much book learning but I loved her and my world ran around her. But pregnancy, andย a new child later and I was full of venom and hate without much room for love or empathy, not at first.

I crave a do-over. I want to be able to love a child the way Ros deserved to be loved, almost 4 years ago now. I can’t make it up, but on some level, my ovaries are trying to have the great chess game, to make up, to make due.

I’ve known, for years, that there’s no going back. What was, is, and simply, I cannot change or make that up. I can only move forward now, grasp my daughter tightly as she grins and tells me I’m pretty, as her cheekbones light up, exactly as mine do. What I can do it love the baby that was, the girl that is, the woman that will be.

The pinpoints of light in that baby girl’s face, interrupted only by the hesitation of the bus on a busy street, will forever hold me in thrall. I can face that hunger down, hold the door open, ask it to leave. And accept that finally, I have been allowed a feeling so basic to women, a hunger I never dreamed I’d feel. All of this shakes me from reverie, telling me to move on, move past and beyond.

I can love that phantom child, he, or she that will never be. I can love a ghost that never was.

ย 

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7 Responses to “Appetitus Rationi Pareat”

  1. Nadine AKA Scarbiedoll February 20, 2009 at 10:29 pm #

    I totally know what you mean. You want a do-over so you can see what it’s like without the crazy. So you can put the crazy on a shelf and just enjoy the littleness. I thought #2 would be like that, but the crazy still peeked out from under my skirt. It makes me sad.

    For the first two years you want nothing more than to get past every stage. By the time your child gets to four or five you realize how short two decades of service actually is. All I can say is smell those child-heads before they become tween heads, and then just thank your stars that you had the chance to have them at all. I totally take it for granted sometimes you know?

  2. Hannah February 21, 2009 at 7:08 am #

    I can only imagine how hard it is for people who have children that close together. Even with the healthy almost three-year age gap between my boys, I find their babyhoods blurring together and it makes me want to write post after post about the cute thing James did yesterday, even though it would be boring…

    I love being a mother and I love my children, but I really don’t like the baby stage much at all. Most days it’s not about joy, it’s about survival. And I hope that in years to come I am not filled with regret and guilt because of it.

    ***

    On a more frivolous note, I like the look of the blog this morning. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. niobe February 21, 2009 at 8:11 am #

    I crave another baby. And my little one is only six weeks old.

  4. thordora February 21, 2009 at 9:01 am #

    I would give you oodles of babies if I could Niobe. ๐Ÿ™‚ But they would be crazy.

    Hannah, I normally feel the same-not a big baby fan. But lately, man, lately, I can feel biology trumping my brain, and Im VERY glad I cant have more.

    I guess I just have all the regrets you don’t want.

  5. Jason Dufair February 23, 2009 at 12:28 pm #

    Wow. Those two smiles are heart stopping. What love radiating from both of you ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. de February 24, 2009 at 11:04 am #

    I am so happy about other people’s babies.

    Sometimes I think, I could “do better” if I did it again, but that’s total bullshit. I might check my impatience one or two times more, but I am who I am. I hope there will be enough love, understanding, growth and communication over the years to create a healthy, long-lasting relationship.

    and what Nadine says is true – two decades of service is not much. It’s just hard to maintain perspective all the time.

  7. sara November 15, 2010 at 12:05 pm #

    crazy and beautifully written. Thank you. I feel lighter having read that and thankful for your thoughts, 5 years later. I have a 16 month old daughter and a husband who works all the time as a cop, myself holding a full-time job as well. It is hard. My husband recently told me that it wasn’t hard, it wasn’t like “crushing rocks”, so I left him on his weekend off from work and stayed at a hotel so he could see for himself what it feels like for a mother to be alone with a toddler all day and night. But now that I read that, I understand a little better. I now understand what it may be like in 5 years and that I need to slow myself down, enjoy the little things. Not be so bitter and feeling sorry for myself all the time. Because one day I will look back and long for these days. Like the day I was 14 years old and sitting on a pier in Martha’s Vineyard with my best friend. We looked at each other, swinging our feet over the water and I said “Remember this day. Because one day we will look back and wish we were here.”

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