with Karli Larson
The transition from stay-at-home mom to divorced-and-working-full-time mom can be challenging, and sometimes very lonely. Throw in a few cats, an ancient dog and one very brave boyfriend, and life gets downright crazy. Join me as I talk through my thoughts and struggles, my miscalculations and my triumphs. We're in this together, you and I.
When I'm not writing here you can find me over at work on the TisBest Philanthropy blog.
My mother started it, bless her, with the simple words, “Mommy has something maybe growing in her tummy and the doctors have to do some tests.”
Oh, bless her.
This sweet statement—designed to allay the possible fears about hospital tests I need to undergo tomorrow—had an entirely different effect on my daughters.
They accosted me in the bathroom immediately.
“Are you PREGNANT?”
I spit my water in the sink but wound up hitting my toes.
“Babci said you had something growing in your tummy so we thought maybe it was a baby.”
“Are you sure it’s not a baby?”
Both faces, upturned, hopeful, expectant.
My heart did a funny little flop-about, a limping moth missing a wing.
I wish it were a baby.
I had always wanted three. Used to dream, vividly, about three. I miscarried my older’s daughter’s twin, very early on. What would that have been like?
Now I’m on my own, nearing 40, and the parts required to have a baby are causing trouble enough to require further tests. Tests that unnerve me. I don’t like the range of best-case to worst-case scenarios that go with my symptoms.
“Mommy? Are you sure?”
Life presented me with two beautiful, healthy daughters—and still, at the mention of a possible impossible baby, I mourn a little someone who does not exist? Am I mourning the past, or the future that won’t be?
Absurdity, I thought, does not die easily.
“I AM DEFINITELY POSITIVELY ONE HUNDRED PERCENT NOT HAVING A BABY,” I told them.
My dark-haired older daughter sighed. “But can’t you decide to have one? Don’t you still have…you know…the stuff?”
“Well, yeah,” I say, “but you need…uh—”
We both glance carefully at her younger sister, who is listening with a quizzical expression on her face.
“—the boy stuff to go with the eggs…and, you know. Make it into a baby.”
The girls regard each other with sudden purpose.
“You could get whatever, that, like, boy stuff,” points out the little one, helpfully. “Couldn’t you? You know boys, you know—”
I cut her off at the pass. “No, no, no. Not so simple. Babies are big decisions, you guys. Besides, what would I do with a baby? You would WANT a baby sister or brother? I think it’s kind of crazy enough as it is around here, with us, two dogs and a cat.”
“But I could be a big sister,” said Miss Little.
“Just, Mommy—what would you name it?” asked Miss First.
Oh. Earlier, my lower abdomen was feeling all the pain. Now the pain had shimmied up to my heart. Here we were at bedtime, naming mythical babies as we brushed our teeth and put on PJs.
I realized my hand had found its way to my belly.
I cleared my throat. “Do you like Isabel, for a girl?”
“How about Toby, for a boy?”
“Wow,” I said. “I’d better leave it up to you.”
“How about Booty?” offered Miss Little, with her usual exuberance.
“How about Fred?” suggested Miss First.
“I like it. Pirate Booty Fred Mattern.”
“No.” My younger shakes her head. “The baby has to have Daddy’s last name, like us.”
I took a very long, very deep breath.
“Nope,” I said. “I think Pirate Booty Fred Mattern would be all mine.”
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