It was only when I held her in my arms today did I realize that I am a mother now. It hit me like a train and I felt uncertain, weak. Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy that she’s finally here. It’s just that when I think of motherhood, my mind doesn’t paint the picture of a laughing baby, bathed in sunshine and being strolled in a suburban park by the mother and of course, the father. That’s odd for me. It was always just you and me against the world, Ma. I’m scared and I feel guilty because that’s exactly what you wouldn’t have wanted.
She opened her eyes once and then went back to sleep. I’m exhausted and a little glad that she isn’t churning up a storm just yet. There isn’t much to do in this big and, I think, unnecessarily white hospital room. They could have easily squeezed in some English roses by the window. I remember how you always said that flowers were the best décor. You would have been proud of the Hydrangeas in my backyard. It’s getting a little lonely now since I only have my one day old infant for company. Oh no, don’t worry, Ma, he is right outside, probably on the same floor. They needed him to take care of the bills and the paraphernalia. They told me he was here throughout labor, not quite knowing what to do though. He even got to hold her before I did. He has been here, with me, for a while now. I am beginning to let go of my fear. I want to hold on to it, to be honest. Another thing you wouldn’t have wanted me to do.
Does it make me a horrible mother if I say that I am already envying all the love she is going to get from her father? I particularly don’t like the idea of shoulder rides these fathers offer, you know. That might frighten her. I can’t tell because I know nothing of the view from up there. I’m not complaining. I would give up a hundred shoulder rides for an afternoon of marmalade-making with you and you know that. I’ve never quite been able to get that marriage of bitter and sweet right since you’ve been gone. I miss you, Ma.
You know, I’ve always been a patient girl but it’s been nearly an hour since he went out. I’m trying not to worry about it. I can see the vein on my hand where the IV catheter went in. I traced the purple veins until they disappeared beneath my skin. I hate the color purple. It used to be my favorite as a child until I grew up a little and the purple blotches on your arms started becoming less inconspicuous. I also figured it wasn’t always the cat behind the glass shards I would find on the floor many a morning. It was never the cat. Ma, I know they say marriages are made in heaven but I also know yours put you through hell.
She looks a lot like her father, you can see it in her eyes. You know how I was always told that I look like Daddy? It’s funny how he couldn’t recognize me as his daughter when Aunt Nadia took me to meet him against your wishes. In his defense, a decade is a long time. I did get to meet his wife and two year old, though. I know it was heart wrenching for you to give in to my silly whim but I was just a girl who wanted to see her father. I really loved daddy and I think he loved me too, once. I spent half my childhood believing you both loved each other and the other half loathing you for taking him away from me.
I’m sorry, Ma. I really want to believe that you knew this all along. I am grateful for all the extra hours you put up with at work and for showing up for every one of my performances and the PTA meetings at school. I never told you how proud I was of having a mother who could fix my bicycle as finely as she could fix me breakfast. You made sure we sailed smoothly against the currents of financial instability, apprehensive relatives and the Smart Alec men who thought they knew better than two women living without a man. I loved you deeply and I didn’t tell you that enough. I’m not going to make that mistake with anyone again, Ma.
He came in shortly after she woke up and started bawling. I’m always overcome by an inexplicable relief every time I see him walk in through the door. He’s always come back so far. Ma, I think this one’s here to stay. I’ll always hold on to my fear a little, just in case. I really wish she could meet her strong and lovely grandmother after whom she’s been named. He’s trying to rock her to sleep now and it seems to be working. For all I know, she might just really enjoy the shoulder-rides.