a real mother

Maternal Instinct

holding babySome women are born to be mothers.  Then there’s me.  The tell-tale signs of my lack of maternal instincts started at a tender age.  While other girls fussed and cooed over their plastic baby dolls, I cut all the hair off mine and left it naked in the backyard in the rain for five days.

When it came time to enter the babysitting ranks, my mother lined me up with my very first job.

It was also my last.

I took my young charges to the park to spend a fun-filled afternoon. As far as I was concerned, we had a great time.  So imagine my surprise when I was not only fired, but forever banned from babysitting, by my very own mother.  She informed me that I exhibited less-than good judgment while taking care of her best friend’s children.

I was perplexed.

I thought I’d entertained them AND seized a wonderful teachable moment in the process. Because when the kids found candy on the playground, I made them share it.

Things didn’t improve in high school.  My senior year, I was voted Least Likely to Reproduce.  Because when it came to children of any age – everyone knew I didn’t consider them warm and cuddly.  I found them annoying and quite often, sticky.

What can I say? I’m an only child with no cousins.

After college came that inevitable moment in life’s timeline when my friends started getting married.  And I never saw them again – until the baby shower.  When the “She’s in Labor!” call came, I’d dutifully head to the hospital.  As my friends squealed like Price is Right Showcase Contestants when Daddy announced the Blessed Event in the waiting area, I’d fake it.  Because I knew what was next.  Someone would insist I hold the newborn.

I had a non-negotiable policy regarding babies; I wouldn’t hold one ‘til its neck worked.

Twelve years later, my friends had given up on me entering their Sorority of Motherhood.  And a baby was the last thing on my mind the day The Husband and I ran a half-marathon.  But it wasn’t a race number I needed, it was a Baby on Board sticker slapped on my keester.  Because I was pregnant.

I just didn’t know it.

When I finally figured it out three months later, I vowed to get pregnancy right – especially Eating for Two. I approached nourishment procurement as a competitive Olympic sport.  And I was going for the gold.

By Week 36, my nose should have been growing as big as my belly based on my wildly inaccurate reports to The Husband. My scale amnesia would morph a seven-pound gain for the week into a diminutive pound. By Week 39, when I entered the room my colleague would yell, “Hey Kool-Aid!” By Week 42, I’m lucky I wasn’t giving birth in the Big House. Because I nearly committed murder when a nurse announced my weight in kilograms in front of The Husband undoing my months of girth fabrication.

And then baby finally arrived. But that wasn’t the miracle. The most surprising event – I held my brand-new baby – who notably lacked a working neck.  By the time Younger Boy came along, I’d lost my Baby Fear and could execute my Mom-Life duties like a performer in a one-handed circus.

But maybe finally holding a baby wasn’t the biggest miracle of all.  The true miracle for me is that motherhood isn’t a job that required a reference check.    Because if it did, I would’ve never even gotten an interview.

Older Boy is a week old and his neck still doesn’t work. I look this nervous long after it actually does.

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