Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I've been thinking all day about various things to blog about, and now that I'm sitting at the computer to blog about them, am sort of lacking in inspiration. I had in mind some grand post about Motherhood and the Nature Thereof, but I don't think I have it in me really. What I was thinking about this afternoon, as Barak bulldozed a bunch of dried-out wet wipes around the floor of his room, shouting, "Imma! Look! Look!" was how motherhood instantly rockets you to the central point in the family solar system. First you're single, and then either you are one of several players in your family or, if you are me, you're on your own. Then you're married, and it's the two of you. Then you have a kid, and suddenly, there is nobody who can do what you do. You are the one the baby needs, and you're the one running the show, even though you may have no idea what you're doing.

Part of it is nursing, I think, or at least that's how it starts. Nobody else can feed the baby, nobody else can calm the baby as well. But even if I weren't nursing, and even now that I'm not nursing Barak, I think it would be the same. Iyyar will scream and scream in MHH's arms, and the moment he's handed to me he'll sputter and cough and heave a sigh of relief. Not every time, obviously, but often enough. When Barak was a baby and he did this, MHH would hand him over to me and mutter "Chopped liver. Abba is nothing but chopped liver." Now, if I'm going out and the options are "go with Imma" or "stay with Abba" there is really no doubt about what he'll pick. I asked Ada, when she was the teacher at Barak's daycare, if babies who were in the daycare full-time--meaning, up to 55 hours a week--were the same way with their mothers. "Oh yeah," she said. "Even when they only really see their moms on weekends. Mom is always number one. They know."

When Barak cries at night, he cries for Imma. When he hurts himself, he wants Imma. When he wakes up in the morning and wants to come out of his crib, he calls for Imma, even though as often as not it's Abba who actually comes to get him.

I don't know where I'm going with all of this. I was just thinking, this evening, holding Iyyar on my lap and watching Barak play, how different it is now. Six years ago, before I moved to New York in search of a shidduch, I got sick and spent a few days in the hospital. I didn't call anyone to tell them because there wasn't anyone to tell; when it was time to go home, I called a cab. In retrospect there were people I could have called to come get me, but it was the middle of the day, I didn't have anyone's number, I didn't feel good (obviously) and I didn't want to spend time trying to find someone. So I just called a cab. When I got home, I realized that there wasn't anybody who had noticed I'd gone missing; I hadn't missed any classes (I was teaching then) and I lived alone. It didn't really matter to anyone that I'd been sick.

How different from things now, when my getting sick causes complete upheaval and derails everyone's life. Someone needs to take care of the kids, MHH has to stay home from work, the kids still aren't happy unless it's me. If I'm sick in bed I get MHH trying to keep them away, but Barak finds his way in, and I wake up to him climbing on me saying happily, "Hi Imma!" As much as I'd like to get a little more sleep, there's no question--it's nice to be needed.

On the flip side, back when nobody needed me, I never had anyone to worry about. Contrast that to now, when I am constantly shushing the perpetual dread of Something Bad. On Sunday, when Grandma E was here, we all went out to lunch and on the way back MHH walked with Iyyar in the stroller and I went in the car with Grandma E, Grandpa M and Barak (there wasn't room for everyone in the car and the restaurant is close.) At one point MHH came up behind us as we were stopped at a traffic light and was waiting at the corner to cross the street. I had to look away. I literally could not watch, because I was so afraid of seeing them get hit. That's how scared I am of something happening to them.

Like I said, no idea where I'm going with all of this. And my husband needs the computer to write a quiz for tomorrow, so that's all I'll say about it anyway.

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