When I had my first child, society approved.
I was young and cute and he was young and cute. People smiled at us at the grocery store and wanted to pinch his cheek and adjust his socks and generally approved of our existence. When I had my second child, old men at the grocery store (it was always old men at the grocery store) would smile, tell me I had my hands full, and shuffle on glad the human race was continuing on without involving them in the general noise and inconvenience of it all. When I had my third child, I was forgiven, but barely, and only because the first two were boys. I was told that now that I had my girl, I could stop. When I had my fourth child, I don’t know what people said, I couldn’t hear them above the noise of all the children. But when I had my fifth, the old men at the grocery store would break through the din to exclaim in exasperation, “Don’t you know where these things come from?” I did, in fact, know where these things came from, having been entirely too present for the birth of each and every one of them. But I didn’t think these men really wanted to hear my birthing stories, or anything else from me, except perhaps an apology for interfering with the balance of society. I didn’t have time to come up with individual responses in the moment to their sweet inquiry, so I always said, “I don’t know where I keep getting these things, but I think it’s in the water. Don’t drink the water!” Which they never understood and never thought was funny. But it made me giggle a little as I packed groceries around little legs and feet and headed out the door. That water, wherever it was, changed me. I got wiser, more patient, hopefully kinder and decidedly older. My middle got softer both inside and out as my heart and figure grew to accommodate all the change this water brought. I love my changewater, it made me a mother, it made me whole. These days I am mostly back down to two children in the store with me and they do not fit in the cart. The others are grown, society once again approves, and I am left changed and whole. I know the secret of my over sized family. My body, my mind, and my soul wear the badges from battles won, the scars of battles lost. Old men don’t mess with me anymore, I am too close to them in age and too busy straightening the socks on some strangers little one in the cart while she gets her coffee, hoping to make her day a little better. Hoping she will have more than one…maybe lots more than one. Come on in ladies, the water’s fine!