The Shoebox

one of my favorite pictures of Mary


I was OK with not being a mother.
Really.
I wasn’t against the idea, I just didn’t feel a strong pull towards procreation.
Many of my family and friends could not accept this. 
Over 5 years of marriage and childless.
“You really can’t mean that you’re OK with it, Rene, you’re just not ready, you’ll change”, friends would say… and they’d either be pregnant, be obsessed with getting pregnant or they’d be rocking a cherub off to sleep.
But the truth was…I…really…was…OK, and it was deep rooted instinctive response.
Red light, green light..not for me.


Not yet, anyway.


That truth was very rarely divulged because it would not be understood.
I didn’t even understand why I felt the way that I did.
“Yes, we’d love to…we’re trying…hopefully, someday”….. those were my standard lines and I’d rail them off like a seasoned politician.
It’s what the crowd wanted to hear.
It’s what my husband wanted to believe that I was starting to feel like.

After some lengthy soul searching and even longer talks together
OK..it was about 3 years later
We ( I, really)  decided to enter the baby chase
My feelings were, if it happens, it happens, meh…

And that made me feel so very alone, incredibly selfish and Grinch-like.
Was my heart really that hard?


In a heartbeat, 10 years of marriage come rolling around and we still had no offspring…
Those well rehearsed lines didn’t pass the sniff test anymore and folks wanted to know if there was something wrong, and what were we doing about it.
And what were we doing about  it….?


That question made me nostalgic for the “Any babies yet?” question


So what were we doing about it?
Accepting it.
Denying it.
Talking about it.
Not talking about it.


Dealing with the news.


It had been determined that…
while not impossible, the chances were not very likely…
I was not producing, on a regular basis, my half of the stuff that made babies possible.
No eggos, No preggos…
Fertility treatments could have helped the situation along, but because of a hornet’s nest of reasons that wasn’t an option for us.


I was kind of relieved that it wasn’t an option.
Yes, honestly I was…
You’re a mean one, Mrs. Grinch…


Why?


Maybe I just wasn’t cut out to be a mother. 
I never did have a mothering instinct.
I didn’t flip out over babies, and as a matter of fact, I found them annoying and intimidating, especially when someone would just hand you their baby.
Nice baby, oh god, it’s  crying and now it’s leaking…here you go…back to mommy…


“It’s different when they are your own kids”
“They are a blessing in your life”


Why wasn’t I blessed?
I was actually asked that one time by a multiple receipient of God’s favorable nod.
“Maybe someday you’ll be blessed, we’ll keep you in our prayers”
To my cynical ear that sounded like:
God loves us but, he only likes you as a friend. We’ll put in a good word for you.

Yeah, I knew that those words were well-meaning and intended to comfort me but, I just couldn’t stand that sanctimonious bs, and despite promises of prayers, month after month I still received a reminder of just how unblessed I was.

meh…OK…not preggers, but hey, it’s payday!


Until one day, After 13 years of marriage, during the summer of my 35th year, I started to become less and less OK with that.
Sad, actually.
Really.
My heart ached for a child.
Had I waited too long for this change of heart? 
Was not having a bunch of kids already, a big missing piece in my husband’s heart?
And although he assured me hundreds of times otherwise, did he really not regret marrying me?
Did I really even honestly want this?


Yes I did.
Was it too late?
How OK would I be with…No?


If things weren’t happening for us naturally, perhaps we should talk about alternatives and adoption…
Let’s talk about it after summer vacation.
Yes let’s……..


It was during the start of a relaxing vacation in Boothbay Harbor, Maine that I started to feel like I had been wrung out and hung out to dry.
Awww..I was just a little run down..vacay’ll fix that up.
I soldiered on but then tossed my cookies on a whale watching cruise and attributed it to seasickness.
The mere smell of breakfast turned me green, which I blamed on cocktails the night before.
Instead of sightseeing and shopping, I chose napping….
Which meant only one thing.

I was dying.


Back home, and feeling “shoot-me-now” awful, I saw the doctor.
The usual questions
Until
“When was your last period?”
“Well, it was, lemmee see, what day is it, hmmm, ahhh, wait I”…
After not really having to keep track of it, I sorta lost track of it…


Wait a minute, you don’t think?
Funny how that thought never even crossed my mind…


Sooooo I wasn’t dying after all.
And that thing that was almost impossible of me becoming?
I was now about 8 weeks in the process of being.

Lucky 13 years of marriage. The summer of my 35th year.

The news damn near killed my husband but then turned him into Alan Alda for nearly nine  months.


I sailed through an easy pregnancy except for a little spot of gestational diabetes midway through.
I think my new found insane love for cinnamon sugar on toast may have been a contributing factor. I did get over my fear of needles rather quickly as I had to test my blood several times a day and inject myself with insulin. That first shot, heh, that was a freakin’ riot.
I was OK with all of that.
Really.
And I was OK with being the oldest pregnant chick in the waiting room most of the time.




I truly loved feeling the flutters, kicks and squirms of the little one growing inside of me, I surprisingly didn’t gain much weight, though I ate like a shark,I saw my husband cry when we saw pictures of our little girl ( yeah we wanted to know) for the first time, had my belly touched by practically everyone I had ever known in my entire life ( I think they just wanted to make sure it was real ! )
These were all wonderful experiences.


But I was still a little worried, as I, myself, wasn’t a belly hugger.
I did not read to my child in-utero.
I did not play Mozart, or Beethoven.
I did not take scads of classes, besides Lamaze which I thought was lame, and I  totally spaced at delivery time.
I provided the nourishment and let her just do her thing and grow.
And , of course, I loved her and wanted her right where she was.
Until I was ready to let her go.


And for that last 2 weeks or so, I was exhausted and sooo over being pregnant…


I had an obnoxiously stress free, not terribly painful 5 hour labor and a 3 push delivery.
But I made noises that I have only heard on wildlife documentaries.
My husband looked at me as if I was morphing into something alien.

I was. I was becoming a mother!


Mary came pirouetting into our world a little after midnight.
She blinked her big “Cindy Lou Whoo” eyes several times and had such a look of confusion on her face.
“Where the hell am I, and really, enough with the lights already!”
Please don’t gag but, the first thing I said to her was,
“I love you, Mary”
I wanted those words to be the very first words that she heard.
The very sight of her, on my chest, filled my heart with the fiercest kind of love.
A Momma Cat with her cub.


The next day we bundled all 6 lbs of her up and took her home.
Just like that.
No owner’s manual or nothing…
And the lovely folks at the birthing center, the same ones who held our hands for nine months, were now giving us a boot in the ass.
And I was OK with that.
Really.


I had tremendous difficulty breastfeeding.
Why did this not come naturally, was I an unfit mother already?
“I’m not meant to be a mother…sob..”
“Yeah, that has to be it, let’s return her, there’s obviously been a mistake”… my husband would joke, trying to get me to see how ridiculous I was being.
” C’mon, just look at her, Rene, look at how she’s looking at you”
Through my sobbing, I looked down at her face and I saw.
I saw how absolutely hard I was being on myself.
The kid loved me, really loved me… every sobbing, over-tired, inexperienced, neurotic, unholy hot mess, inch of me. 
Unconditionally.
Poor kid. 🙂


Soon we all settled into our new little sleep deprived family groove, and I relaxed and figured out how to feed my kid without anxiety attacks.
And besides that little episode, and some sniffles now and again, I didn’t suffer any post-partum depression ( which in that dark little corner of my mind, I secretly feared)


I could go on forever, now, about those first weeks home but I’ll save that for another time.
So many funny and heart-tickling stories, heh….
but through the magic of bloggy land
I’m going to fast forward to a time when Mary was about 2 years old….


We were sitting on the front lawn, playing in the leaves, and I was just marveling at her as I often did, not believing that she was really here.
So I asked her, “Mary where did you come from?”
She looked at me knowingly, smiling her dimpled chipmunk cheeked smile.

“I picked your name out of a shoebox”

Her response took me by absolute surprise, as I didn’t expect her to respond at all.
I had jokingly said this in a where-have-you-been-my-whole-life kind of way.
But this? Wow!

I just grabbed her and tickled her, crying the happy tears like a damn cartoon.
Oh, God, a shoebox? That sounds about right. 
That sounds like how most of my big life decisions were cosmically made 🙂
The dumb luck of it all…a chubby cherub hand pulling my name out of a shoebox… Priceless.


I looked up at the gorgeous crystal blue autumn sky,” I will remember this day forever” I said in a phoney not-so-scary monster voice, tickling her.
The day that I knew I was really OK with being a mother.
In fact I was more than OK with it, and at this moment of my life, I was a natural.
Really.


Peace – Rene


I cannot believe that, this day was a little more than 8 years ago…..ain’t it funny how the time flies?

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24 thoughts on “The Shoebox

  1. You know, sometimes you read those posts that make the hair on your neck stand up because of the emotion that they generate? This is one of them!

  2. just wanted to say thank you for all of your comments!And this post is to thank my daughter for making me a mother…something I didn't think I wanted to be.And to commemorate the day I realized that.It is not her birthday but it is a special day nonetheless!Peace – Rene

  3. You know what they say…The best things in LIFE are worth waiting for!A Momma Cat with her cub…love that! And love the photo of you two! Give that sweetheart a hug and remember how she came to be…the next time she drives you to the brink of madness and the 'shoot-me-now' will be a welcomed plea..haha!I love this post, Rene! You're a natural. Really 😉

  4. Oh, I loved reading this! What a darling daughter you are raising! I had my one and only when I was 34…and sometimes I still wonder if I have the hang of this motherhood thing!

  5. What a beautiful story. I love hearing these sorts of journeys. I'm 39 and it looks like my time is probably up. My boyfriend isn't all that into the idea of starting over again, since his daughter is 9…and I'm just not sure I'm cut out for it. I'm coming to realize that not all of us are meant for motherhood, but stepmotherhood is in my future, I guess. Parenthood takes a lot of patience and I am NOT a patient person!

  6. I love your story, I was crying a bit at the end…I'm a little sappy I guess…. My little girl will be 9 in March and in the end I'm thankful for the close to 4 yr struggle I had to get pregnant with her. I'm not sure I would have been ready if she'd shown up 9 mos after we started trying. I was much more thankful after the wait. And then 7 yrs later when her brother showed up after us giving up trying after 3 more yrs, I'm certain he was sent to make sure I NEVER plan anything again as long as I live. Cute little guy, sure, but boy he's a handful! I'll be 40 next yr and I'm pretty sure I'm too old to be doing this again!Great to meet you! Happy VGNO, a little late! Come over & check out my blog, I was honored this week & I'm excited to share the news! http://juliechats.blogspot.com/

  7. Chicken bumps. 🙂 Rene. Your such a spaz, but in a good way. Im glad you are happy with being a mother, that whole thing bring the baby home and an emotional wreck it happens to just about every first time mom. You rock….. cant wait to hear about the rest of the few weeks home with Mary when she was a baby.

  8. Oh I am so glad I saw this! what alovely story. I know exaclt what you mean about the blessing bit, although we never had that issue as we had three kids easily. Still, I don;t like the implications that some parents are blessed and other not. So, a child abuser is "blessed" with a child but some sterile devoted type lady isn't? I don;t get it but at the same time I have to admit kids are a blessing. They teach one to be less self centred, to sacrifice more adn to lean humility if one allows parenting too–lots of opps for that. Congrats on your daughter reaching 8. How lovely.

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