Friday’s almost here. I’m going to get dressed, look very well put together, and walk into my synagogue thinking about nothing in particular.
It's not likely I'd wear that dress. Or that fascinator. Still...
First I’ll pass a section of younger women. They’ll smile and nod. Maybe one or two will wave. Then I’ll approach my row and the heads will start to turn. And they’ll stare. Then they’ll throw their hands up in apparent disappointment. At first I won’t understand. Then my heart will sink as I realize the last time they saw me I had a baby. And now the baby’s gone.
Baby J went home yesterday. He has a new mom, a new home, and even a new name. Everyone asks me how I give them up. “Don’t you get attached?” or "I'd just want to keep them," you've said to me. "Really?" I'd like to say. "Each one?"
Do I get attached? I get attached to HAVING a baby, to being that mom who takes care of babies, to being seen with babies. “What? No baby?” You’ll turn your palms up to the sky as though perhaps I misplaced him and if I would just check the last place I saw him then he would turn up. But he won’t. He’s gone. His forever mama took him home and it’s not likely that we’ll see him again. My looking in the swing in the living room or in the co-sleeper in my bedroom isn’t going to turn up that absent baby, regardless of the fact that I still hear his cries. And I do. Just yesterday, I blessed this baby, said “goodbye” and “it was nice knowing you” and minutes later opened up the back seat of my car to load him into the car seat. Except there was no car seat because there was no baby. “You coulda told me there’s no baby!” I snapped tearily at the valet holding the car door open for me.
Then I went home and because the baby wasn’t in my arms, I guess I figured he was just in another room so I rushed through the door to see if he needed a bottle or if anyone had changed his diaper. Because my subconscious must not have been at his placement or something when we were snapping photos left and right so his forever mommy could show him pictures of me when he grows up because I’M NEVER GOING TO SEE HIM AGAIN. So, wake up, subconscious! There IS no baby!
I wasn’t attached to HIM. I was attached to taking care of a baby. And now I’m standing in front of you, wearing dangly earrings, a necklace, and “impossibly high heels” for the first time in months and my mouth falls agape as I watch your hands leave your side and turn up in disappointment because, no. There is no baby. I know I have my own kids and of COURSE I’m happy for Baby J and his new mom. But in that moment and for those brief moments after “my” babies go home, I feel empty. Not a mom. Useless.
I miss babies. I miss HAVING a baby. In English we simply say, “I miss him.” But I don’t. Not really. I don’t miss any particular baby. In French, we say “Il me manque.” “He is missing from me.” So when I’m standing in front of you and you’re staring at my empty arms, No. I wasn’t attached. To him. I don’t miss him.