My daughter asks me for a sister. One that is alive and plays.
She begs me for another.
"OH, pppppleeeeeeease, Mama. Please. Lucy is dead. You can't bring her back, Mommy. But we can still have a little sister who is cute."
My husband agrees. He nods and points his thumb at her. "Getta load of the girl. She is making a decent argument," he seems to say, smirking and devilish. I tell her that she may get a brother. There is no guarantee it would be a sister.
"That is okay. I will play with a brother too. I promise. "
She wears the deer antlers we made and sings a reindeer song. That is what she calls it. It sounds like shrieks and gurgles and whinnies. She gallops through the house. She looks like a woodland creature, some kind of fairy nymph that pops out of a knot in a tree and blows a forgetting dust into your face.
I want to try for another fawn. I do. Sometimes, particularly after baby showers and holding newborns, the idea seems incredibly good. They smell like vanilla and breastmilk and malted milk balls. Their feet are as tiny and soft as mosses under our favorite tree and their voices are bells, clear and fine reminding us of something bigger. But even the fairy dust can't help me forget the anxiety of Thor's pregnancy and the raw pain of Lucy's death. And I said I was done, dammit. Done. Yet this doesn't feel done. They cry for another fawn. I wonder if I feel that tug to have more babies because Lucia died. I wonder if we will always feel like there should be just one more baby, because there should be one more baby. Or rather there was one more baby. It is a riddle I cannot figure out. A Chinese handcuff--one idea goes in this side, and the other on the opposite side, and struggling only makes them tight and claustrophobic, inescapable.
I am too grounded in my comfort for a newborn. It is different when the bottoms of your feet hurt in the morning, and you have grey hair. I am already the oldest mom in the line waiting. The crow's feet and the paunch.
I ache, sometimes. I yearn. My uterus reaches up and opens its hands and moans, "Just. One. More."
She says a sister would play deer with her. Her brother wants to rip the antlers to pieces. Chew them and bury them and transform them into the trees. He is the Trickster, hiding and ripping and causing a beautiful chaos. I try to explain to her the myth. He is playing a different role than deer. He is something else entirely.
I admit that the boy seems completely uninterested in having to share me with anyone. He wants to be on me. All night. All day. He grabs each cheek and stares into my face when I am talking to Beezus. If she climbs on my lap, he pushes, like a linebacker, all shoulders squaring off. And she screams, "She's my mommy too, Thor." He tries to move her off me. I find it so endearing and lovely to be wanted. I am wanted. I can't believe these children want me, and then I remember that I am their mother.
I am a mother!
I am thirty-eight!
I have three kids and a house and two trucks!
I clean the house every day and make dinner every night and listen to NPR!
I spend 24 hours a day with the kids and I'm not sick of them!
These things surprise me. Constantly. Do they surprise everyone?
My husband woke late this morning. We had a rough night with the kids. He was kicked in the neck, and went to sleep in the bunk bed with the little magical deer fairy who had a nightmare. I woke up with Thor sitting on my shoulder, repeating the word DOWN! and pointing to the stairs. In the morning, after the neck kicks, my husband whispered, as the children ran with juice toward the fire.
"The middle of the night makes parenting so challenging," he said. His voice weary, defeated. "I wish I were twenty-five."
"If you were twenty-five, you wouldn't have the patience for the middle of the night."
"Very true, but at least I would be 25."
I am tired. I am not 25.
And I am thinking about deer.
What are you thinking about? What do you think? Will we always want one more when we are missing one?