Our dinners tend to be pretty civilized, and I like this. We eat together, always by candlelight (because we light the candle for Charlotte). The kids use real dishes and utensils. We have placemats and try to make pleasant conversation. So tonight it is going just swimmingly, and then Aoife decides she's had it. First, the fork goes in the milk. Then the milk gets taken away. Then the sweet potato puree starts to be spread, slowly, while making direct eye contact with me, onto the table. Then, a bite of sweet potato and broccoli gets drooled, slowly, onto the table. "Oops," she says. "I need a napkin. I'll clean that up." Yeah, right. She did clean it up, but accident? I think not. She takes a handful of potatoes and looks at the floor....
I snatched away the plate. Took the potatoes. Dinner was over. I wiped her off, lowered her to the floor. "Supper is over," I told her. She pranced away. It was funny.
After dinner we had a marshmallow roast. I just bought Greg a lovely copper outdoor fireplace for his birthday. We made a tiny little fire and each had a two-marshmallow allowance. Liam gets so industrious and excited, he was frantically gathering wood and authoritatively filling the bucket that the marshmallow sticks (pre-carved by Dad) would soak in prior to the roast. He passed out sticks and proudly stood by while Greg roasted it for him (I want it perfectly burnt, he says, pointing to Greg's lovely brown marshmallow, just like yours) He loved his s'more.
I have to say it's things like that which make me want to have a big family. There we were, around the campfire, toasting marshmallows and singing "Alouette" with Greg on the guitar, and it just seemed like the mood would be more jolly if we had a few more singers. I shouldn't say it like that, because my level of satisfaction and delight with our little campfire was just about 100%, but it did seem like a scene that called for a crowd. The children were just beside themselves with joy. The naughtiness had ceased (unless you count taking a freshly roasted marshmallow and mashing it definitively between your fingers for 5 minutes, which I don't, because marshmallows are curiously gooey and very new to Aoife)
I had baby news today, two new babies born yesterday, Anneleise Victoria to my childhood friend Amanda, and another little girl (name unknown to me yet) to an old gap year friend... about this friend I received an e-mail yesterday saying, "Aspin's water broke this morning. She is having a little girl at home."
And you know my reaction. Oh, shit, shit, shit. Why did you have to pass this e-mail along? I think longingly of all the other people on the e-mail list who read it and sighed, as their hearts filled with excitement, whereas mine plummets and I am counting the seconds as the clock ticks for that baby. I have always told my friends, don't call me and tell me you are in labor. I can't handle it. Labor scares me. Labor is when your baby can die. I don't want to know anything until everything is already okay, especially if you are at home. Go ahead and do your thing, but don't bring me into it.
I hate it that I think this way. I always say this but I'll say it again, I know part of it is me just feeling insanely jealous that my old friend Aspin is maybe right now pushing out her firstborn daughter in the comfort of her own home, sipping her own tea, with her own pillow beneath her head. She never had to pack a bag, she'll get to wear her comfiest sweatshirt and choose her underwear the next day from all the ones in her drawer. Her baby won't have to go in a carseat for as long as she chooses to keep her at home.
And oh? She'll get to keep the baby, too. Yeah. Sometimes seem like they all get to do this part.
And the truth at the bottom of it is I'm happy for her, I'm happy for everyone who gets to do this part, the keeping part, I'm so relieved and grateful that another family has been spared, and I'm so delighted for her to know the JOY that motherhood brings. But there is always a pang, always, because she will receive what I was denied, and I will never get a second chance to get that back.
This is the thing that strikes me quite often: I will always be the person whose baby died.