No One Prepared Me For This Love


No one prepared me for this love.

It is a warmth behind my lungs, spreading from my heart. It is pure happiness.

When I first held her in my arms, it was masked as fear. How do I keep this little bundle of life alive? I go through the motions. I feed her, change her, soothe her. I worry, so I hold her for the first four weeks of her life. Backstage, I hear the voices of mothers before me, “She’ll spoil her.” “She’s holding her too much.” “She won’t learn to self-soothe.” But I am strong in my fear. Her baby-breathing is uneven in her sleep. I hold my breath.

Fear sets and love rises, in glimpses. Baby hugs, giggles, first mumbles, a possible “ma-ma”? The curtain of fear drops, I sing my aria. Joyful verses, lullabies, starry skies. Hungry caterpillars, three little bears, goodnight moon. And, scene. Backstage, I switch on the monitor, adjust the volume. I press my ear to the speaker, listen carefully. I hold my breath.

First steps, tumbles, climbing, tripping, falling, slipping. Toddler bootprints in the snow, disappearing across the ice. In a stage-whisper, I hear a mother’s voice. “She needs better boots,” the voice says. A mittened hand in mine. “I’ve got you,” I say, though I can barely hold myself. We stumble together, slide, catch each other. I hold my breath.


In Spring, she jumps, she runs, she leaps. She crashes into me. I sit in a field, so real I’ve forgotten the stage. I await the impact. A train is coming. “Chugga-chugga! Choo! Choo!” the train says. It giggles and squeaks, wobbles and stumbles. I hold my breath.

In Summer, she says, “Don’t worry,” and “I’m okay,” and “I love you,” and “You’re my best friend,” except when I tell her that it’s time to clean up toys. Then it is, “Never! You are not my friend any more. I won’t talk to you. I’m never playing with you again.” I laugh and press my cheek to hers. I cradle her in my arms, kiss her forehead, press my nose to her hair. I smell baby shampoo, summer sun, oatmeal with honey, apples.

No one prepared me for this love.



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