I once carried a body inside of me. A little being strapped just under my belly button, that kicked from the inside.
I cried when it first lived. Afraid of my own self, the cruelty I had inflicted on my own being. That I could never hold a little face and treat it like glass. I’ve always broken things–my ankle at dance practice, a porcelain doll with eyes as grey as mine, a heart or two, but my own the most. I lose things–keys, papers, my grandmother’s ring.
And so I was afraid for the little person that lived inside a body that did not value itself.
I felt it move, this person, heard its heart beat faster than a hummingbird. And my own heart sped up, too. But also felt like it grew. Larger than when we kissed for the first time–awkward and stained with vodka and stars. Bigger than when I stepped off the plane–alone and terrified, but full of wonder.
I loved that little heart, beating when sometimes I did not want my own to.
My belly grew with this being I soon discovered would be my son. A boy–a strange feeling–that I could grow a boy. The very thing that had hurt me like a burn that never scarred. But there he was, in black-and-white. A boy no other could compare to.
I cried again, for doubting in the first place. And though I couldn’t yet see his smile; I knew he smiled.
We ate chocolate, and he smiled.
We watched movies, and he smiled.
I rubbed my belly, and he smiled.
And when I could finally see his face, the doubt arose again. His screaming, little, beautiful face that I loved so much I wasn’t sure there was anything else I had to give besides love. I loved him so much, I felt guilty, like the child who snuck sips of soda in the dark. I loved him, like a secret I couldn’t keep.
And with each passing day he grew. Sometimes seeming as small as a pea, other days as large as the universe. He laughed and cried and loved. I’d never seen something so beautiful–better than anything I’d ever written or could write, for he was written in my DNA, but edited to its essence. The best poem I ever wrote.
And then came the testing–the “I hate you, Mommy,” the bites, the time-outs, the small, simple wounds of impatience and imperfection. I yearned for the days he wanted of nothing more than to lay on my chest, falling asleep to dreams I will never know.
Grow, I know. He must grow. He is a child now, a being separate from myself. But since you must grow, my baby boy, just know that your body has made mine whole. Not like a puzzle, where something was missing, but like the way the universe expands, consistently growing new stars. I’m so happy to have helped make you, but happier still to see you make yourself. And in your making, I discovered, I am capable of mending things in my own being.
Love, little boy. You are love. Write your own poem. I will cherish every space, every pause, every word.
I hope you know, I wanted you. That I love you. And that of all the things I have done–carrying your body was the best one.