December 28, 2011

Baby on the Hip.

My baby on my hip. It's an age-old emblem of motherhood. As I swing Tessa into my arms and head out the door or ferry her from car to coffee shop, I've taken it largely for granted. But I've begun thinking a lot about how powerful the mother-baby-hip connection is. The physical weight and emotional reassurance of having her in my arms, at the curve of my waist--it means everything to me. And I think it means so many different things to different mothers. Baby on the hip as .... a shield, a weapon, a badge, a comfort, a distraction, a symbol of fertility, a symbol of femininity, a source of pride.

As Nekos and I talk about making another baby one of these days, I'm trying to figure out what makes me feel ready for that all of a sudden, when a few months ago I would have told you no, hell no. Besides that I want to continue to build our family and our future and want the next baby to be somewhat near in age to Tessa and all that blahblahblah, it's that I'm scared. I'm scared because Tessa is getting older, and I'll miss having her there on my hip. She still loves to be carried around most of the time (all 27 lbs. of her), and I still love it, even though my arms ache and I get sweaty and disheveled. I honestly can't tell you how much I love having her ear right there to whisper "I love you" into, how much I love having that velvet cheek to gobble on until she giggles. And when she tucks her head under my chin and rests it there, as though she is weary of this world? Oh Lord. It's truly the best. But I know one day soon she'll be too heavy and too willful to carry around, and my arms will be empty most of the time.

Speaking of empty arms, I ran into a woman the other day who I'm not a big fan of. She's certainly no fan of mine either. But before I knew what I was doing I smiled and waved at her. Afterwards, I tried to decide what had momentarily cracked my cold reserve toward herother than, you know, human decency or the element of surprise. Later that day I figured it out: She didn't have her baby with her. Because our differences lie in the way we parent, I'd come to interpret her child on her hip as a sort of weapon. Whenever she carried her kid around, she looked to me to be armed, her ammunition within reach. Without the baby, she was just a woman.

Without Tess on my hip, I am just a woman, too. A woman who is not yet ready to also be the mother of a child who no longer needs carrying around.