What this woman didn’t know, and couldn’t possibly have known, was just how loaded her simple question was
ith a distracted “Have a great day, girls!” I dismissed my class and hurried out of the school building. Now that the teaching part of my day was over, it was time for me to put on my “Mommy hat.” Playgroup pickup time is ten minutes after my last class ends, and it’s a 12-minute walk, so getting to my toddler on time each day is a feat.
On that very ordinary Tuesday afternoon, I put on my jacket and walked briskly down the street. By some miracle, I made it to the day care center just in time. As I reached out to ring the bell, the door opened, and I stepped aside as a young mother began maneuvering her stroller through the doorway. My little boy was waiting very impatiently for his mommy, and when he spied me from inside the room, he made a run for the door, attempting to squeeze his way past the stroller to reach me.
The other mother, concerned that the little guy was trying to make an escape, asked, “Is he yours?”
My breath caught in my throat. Is he mine? “Yes,” I choked back in response. “Yes! He’s mine. He’s mine! He’s mine!”
I savored the words as I repeated them over and over. My little one flung himself at me and I held his warm, sticky, precious little body tightly.
The other mother looked at me oddly.
What this woman didn’t know, and couldn’t possibly have known, was just how loaded her simple question was.
Because there was a time when I wasn’t at all sure that I would ever be able to call a child mine. There was a time when I’d achingly watch harried mothers running to pick up their babies, rushing to make it home for their kids’ buses, as I slowly walked home to my quiet little apartment. How I yearned to have a reason to rush, too. My hands itched to push a carriage, to wrestle little arms into coat sleeves, to hurry, hurry, hurry with the single-minded purpose of a busy young mother.
Even worse than the longing, the waiting, was the fear. What if it never happens? What if I never have a child of my own? What if Hashem’s answer to my prayers would be, “No, dearest daughter, this isn’t My plan for you”?
And then, unbelievably, in Hashem’s infinite kindness, I gave birth to my son. As I acclimated to motherhood, every new experience was so exciting. Bringing my baby to the sitter on the way to work each day was an Event. Joining all the other mothers jostling their carriages, juggling crying babies, pacifiers, and fuzzy blankies, I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating.
Could it be that I finally had a place among the other young mothers? For so long, I’d been sidelined, allowed to watch, but never belong. I felt like an intruder at first, a trespasser.
It took a long time to make the mental shift from poor, childless me to lucky, lucky Mommy. “Look at me!” I wanted to shout. “I have a baby — a real, live baby! And I get to wheel him in a pretty carriage down the avenue, just like you! And you! And everyone else in the universe!” (Or so it seemed to me, at least.)
That grateful feeling is something that never fizzles out. On the contrary, it grows with every new stage. When it was time to buy my son his first pair of shoes, I had chills all the way to the shoe store, and cried while I paid for those patent leather beauties. And just recently, when I filled out the application to nursery school, my hand trembled as I signed at the bottom.
I often find myself looking into my son’s gorgeous eyes and thinking, “How did I ever deserve this incredible gift? Does he really, really belong to me?”
So, yes, Other-Mother-with-the-Stroller, this kid is mine. After all those years, all those tears; he’s mine. After the horrible fertility treatments and thousands of dollars, he’s mine. After the soaring hopes and crushing disappointments, he’s mine. From his soft curly hair to his pudgy little toes, he’s mine.
He’s a miracle. And he’s mine.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 641)
Oops! We could not locate your form.