Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holding my Baby

I didn't do anything today. I just held my baby.

Admittedly it didn't start out voluntary. She was hungry every ten minutes today, it seemed, and wouldn't stay asleep, so she was just generally fussy. I didn't even get a shower, so I feel pretty grungy as I write this. I just held her on my lap while I dinked around on the computer, then we slept together through a few movies. I kept thinking I should really try to put her down and get some stuff done around the house, at least do the dishes and put my laundry away. But I didn't.

Tonight when my husband came home, I didn't even let him take her so I could get those few things done that had sat all day waiting for me to have a free hand. I just kept holding her, through our three episodes of TV shows. I didn't even watch much of the shows, I was so intent on the slumbering little body passed out on my chest. For some reason-- the recline at which I was sitting on the couch, maybe, or perhaps the way she was propped on my chest-- I was reminded about the night she was born, and how it felt to hold her for the first time.

I didn't really get a chance to enjoy it that first time. Like so many great moments in life, it was sprung on me before I had rehearsed the perfect big-screen reaction, so instead of weeping and holding her dramatically to my breast fit to win an Emmy, I said something dumb like "Look! I have a stomach again!" that was aimed more to make the nurses laugh than to bring tears to the attending audience's eyes. But thinking back on that moment now, when they first put Hannah in my arms, I get this warm, full feeling in my chest, that fills up my ribs and threatens to explode out the top of my throat.

I was never sure I wanted to be a mom. For some reason I could never feel about it the way I thought most women should in order to be fit mothers: that it's their sole purpose in life and nothing else is more important. I knew it was important to me, but the thought of having motherhood be the only thing I ever did saddened me, and still disturbs me. I can't draw the line at just that, important as it may be. I wouldn't be able to look back on my life without anything else but my daughter to show for it and be satisfied; I will always want to have accomplished more. That's just how I am. Even today, allowing myself a day "off", so to speak, from household duties to spend a whole day cuddling my new baby, I can't say I'm satisfied with how the day ended up.

But sitting on the couch tonight, remembering the day I pushed this little girl out of me and looked into her eyes for the first time, I think I learned something about being a mom. It's this: maybe I won't ever be satisfied with what I accomplish in life, and maybe that's just how it is. How many women ever are satisfied that they've done all they could anyway? But this little girl, who is snoring softly in her bassinet beside me as I write this-- she is always going to be at the top of the list for things I'm glad I did. And no matter what doesn't get done in the process, it will never be a waste of time to sit and hold my baby.

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