By Fern Capella
Excerpted from The Essential Hip Mama, the new book edited by Ariel
This is your life when you’re in a dream at 5 A.M. of running fast with your arms empty and you wake up to a screech and you think maybe you hopped a train, but then you feel something warm next to you in bed, and you remember
you had a baby three weeks ago.
And he’s crying, so you reach over to soothe your precious baby and pull him up on top of you and as you do his diaper comes off and his poop is now all over you, so you summon the courage to stand up and clean up so now you’re naked as your parents walk through your room smiling, “Good morning,” on their way to get coffee ‘cause
you’re 21 and single
and you’re living in their living room. But not for long ‘cause their next question is, “When do you think you’ll be up to moving out?” and you think, “When do I think I’ll be up to moving my body?” but you smile bravely and say, “Probably by next week.” So they leave so you can breathe but breathing is for the baby who you remember again and check on ‘cause
breath is such a fragile thing.
Then your stitches tug and you can’t imagine any of this ending, but then you can’t imagine any other beginning than the one of this amazing life you call your son, and the stupid “You Are My Sunshine” song that set you hysterically crying in front of your baby’s pediatrician yesterday as you thought of the second part—“please don’t take my sunshine away”—and you think, “How could I take it?” and you fully realize a mother’s terror.
Those poor mothers everywhere.
But really you could sob all day and who has time ‘cause you’re a mother now and your 3-ton tits are the last place you have been attacked in this war against your body as you hold one in each hand to shower while you have head out/ass in to sing your baby ga-ga songs about maybe getting a fucking break from someone sometime.
Like his father, that slime,
and your mother hears you and is appalled and you too are disgusted with yourself and swear his name will never be mentioned when your baby knows what you’re saying even though it seems like he always has with the beautiful way he surveys you and your heart hits the floor.
You love him like sapphires under your tongue.
And who else but his father calls to say he remembers why he made your baby and he could love you if you let him make another one. And you think that even you didn’t have anything to do but host the miracle that was being formed inside you and this asshole getting some ass one night most certainly did not either, so you thank him for his microscopic gift of one in ten billion sperm that happened to make the prettiest baby you’ve ever seen and hang up thinking,
It’s mostly between you and god now.
And so you pull some energy out from somewhere deep ‘cause you realize you won’t be wanting any breaks from Him, and you get you and your baby dressed and make your way to the store and there, in the midst of checkout, you’re roused from this seemingly endless daze to find the store clerk holding your whining baby with spit-up on his dark blue uniform and you writing a bad check with shaky fingers and the lady behind you in line dying to find out why your skin is whiter than white like Tide with Bleach and your baby looks like a Cuban that has just been rescued from the seas, and you snarl and say, “You wanna see my stretch marks?” ‘cause
he could only be your baby.
You get nauseous to think otherwise though that seems to be a better option as your mother mentions later that, “It’s never too late to consider adoption,” and you tell her, “It’s never too late to consider suicide,” and it’s all just so sugar sweet if you could just melt for a moment with your baby and rest you might just see clear but your interrupted in your merging by a phone call from your very childless, gay best friend who wants to go out later with you and “it”—the baby—but he’s nervous that everyone might think he’s the father ‘cause the poor kid doesn’t have one and
that’s the curse of the single mother.
You’re always left open for insult and somehow you’re always tough enough to take it and
that’s the blessing of the single mother.
It’s not ‘til much later you have time to write these things and your back is tired and your bones are tired and even your pen seems tired, but the paper is your lover and you tell it everything and you tell it how you’re terrified and how you’re probably a terrible mother but only on the shitty days and you tell it how you’ve never imagined a love so consuming and close to god as you have for this tender life sleeping in a curl next to you and you doze off exhausted to wake an hour later, around 5 A.M.
to a screech.