Again and again it goes, this toddler vigilance. I turn to get a Go-Gurt out of the frig for her and she’s poking at her brother’s eyes again, like he’s got doll baby eyes.

I change his diaper and stick another load of onesies and sleepers in the laundry and she’s painted the yogurt on her arms.

The baby has soiled himself again and poop is everywhere.

I think I can remember myself before babyhood, but I’m not sure. I was going to teach students to reach for the stars and maybe catch a few, too. I was going to teach them to write themselves into a bigger, better world. Writing was going to launch them and me with them.

Then I met Matt and decided I could do both, be a wife and a home girl, have tow-headed kids in handmade clothes, and maybe write a novel or two—and then get back to teaching. I’d read books, sing on tune, and run on a carpet of fresh green grass with those little ones. But sleeplessness and vigilance have crashed my system and threatened to steal my long-term joy and my plans. Even my body is not my own. I do not recognize it with its new softness. Or in these clothes.

I’ve got to figure out how to do this.

That line of thought has kept me out of a tragic nose dive more than once. I always wanted this life, this family life, and now I’m living in it, if not living it. I once saw it from the outside, on the stage of desire. I just didn’t know I would be my own understudy until I learned the lead role. It’s been a learner’s game.

Something crashed in the next room where she went running for me to chase her. Something precious? Probably not. But it’s my fault for not putting it up higher. At least it’s not a broken toddler. Or a broken baby. He’s sleeping with me in a front pack for a while. His big lashes are closing on those big blue doll baby eyes. He’s rocking to sleep with our hearts synched together.

I am figuring out how to do this.

One thought on “Baby Figure by Diane Kendall Stevens

  1. This is wonderful. What a voice you have and how natural it seems to flow out of you. Didn’t we all think
    as young mothers, it would be romantic, having a baby (or 2) nestled in a giant bed, surrounded by puffy whiteness with our adoring husband next to us, and sharing in all those lovely chores of changing diapers (of course, we would do it together) and feeding our baby. And we would, of course, pursue our careers. Funny how it didn’t quite happen like that. You’ve captured the reality. Kudos.

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