Mothers’ Day. Three of them came and went between the time that we started trying and the time that I experienced Mothers’ Day with the twins on the way. The first two didn’t hurt. The first was just a few months after we started trying. We were still in "safe" range and I was only mildly concerned about my irregular cycles. Even by the second, Mothers’ Day was still all about my mom and not about me trying to be one. That year, Frank, my sisters, and I bought my mother a few new outfits and after serving her breakfast, we staged a fashion show and modelled her clothes for her. You should have seen Frank in that sleek, black, sleeveless pantsuit. His lipstick and eyeshadow were impeccable. That Mothers’ Day was enjoyable, and oddly enough my mind was everywhere except focused on my apparent inability to conceive. The third Mothers’ Day rough.
I bit down on my lip and furrowed my eyebrows in concentration, comparing this make and model to that. Which offered the best safety, maneuverability, storage, convenience, and style? After walking up and down the rows for more than an hour, I finally determined the one I liked best. Frank reached up to pull the box down from the shelf. I suddenly stopped him, then gently asked him to pull down my second favorite instead. A few days later at the baby shower that I planned and hosted, I think everyone was too busy watching my 17 year-old sister push around the teddy bear she also received to notice the runaway tear. It was about three weeks past Mothers’ Day, and all I could think of was the rose.
Special occasions I can usually remember with great clarity, but I don’t remember much about that particular Mothers’ Day. In my mind’s eye the details are vague, washed out, and grey, the only color being the rose. I don’t recall what I got for my mother that year and I don’t recall what I got for Chanel, though I know it had to have been something mother/baby related. I don’t recall what my father got for Mom and Chanel, but I remember that on that Sunday morning, he bounded into the house like a jolly Father Christmas five months tardy, with a sackful of presents slung over his shoulder. I was there but not there. It wasn’t until I heard, "Hey, this is for you," for the third time and felt the tapping on the back of my hand that I realized he was talking to me. He handed me a single pink rose and I noticed that Chanel and Mom had each already been given one. "I know you’re not a mother yet, but…." I don’t remember how he concluded the sentence but I know the words were benign and were meant to soothe the hurt from the nature of the day. I appreciated the thought and his effort to include me, but instead I was further reminded of what I did not have. Mom had us, Chanel had her burgeoning belly, and I had a rose, and nothing more.
It took me a couple of months to find the perfect stroller. I made a list of all the things I wanted to purchase later, after we knew that chances were good that we would be coming home with both babies. The stroller was on order and was one of the last things to arrive for the twins. The cribs in the nursery were sweet but it was the stroller that made everything finally seem real. It was their chariot, the vehicle which would transport the twins out of the hospital and into the world. It arrived the week before Mothers’ Day.
When Jordan was born we bought a double umbrella stroller for the twins, for times when we had all three babies out with us. The empty side of the big twin stroller was used as extra storage space until Kaelyn was born. The last time we used the stroller was late November at the Christmas parade. In December, my mother asked us to watch her two full-grown cats and four kittens for a couple of weeks. Those couple of weeks managed to stretch out into a few months, and through the cold of the winter the cats camped out in our garage. Last weekend, Frank and my father did a major overhaul Spring cleaning of our garage and realized that the cats had used the stroller as a secondary litterbox. I came home from the movies and saw the stroller on the curb, lying against the old dryer amongst the other discarded items. At my protests, Frank described the poor condition and explained that it wasn’t worth the effort it would take to clean it and what did it matter anyway? The older three had outgrown it and Kaelyn no longer needed something so big. I took a closer look at the stroller and reluctantly agreed. Trash collection day is on Friday, and when I got home from work last week and saw that the stroller was no longer there, I felt sad and cried, just a little.
It took a while for me to process why I was so saddened by letting go of the stroller. My babies aren’t babies anymore. Kyra and Jaiden are nearly 7, Jordan is a couple of weeks shy of 5, and Kaelyn – sassy little fireball that she is – is 2.5. Technically I guess she can still be classified as a baby, but there are just months left before she’s not. Throwing away the stroller is symbolic of a phase of my motherhood being over, and I wasn’t ready for it. I wanted to let both the stroller and this phase of "babyhood" go on my own terms. But as the saying goes – time waits for no man. They’re growing up, and before I know it Kaelyn will be out of Pull-Ups and there will be nothing left to tether her, or me, to babyhood. I’ve been a mother to babies for seven years, and trashing the stroller made me realize that this part is almost over.
This afternoon I went with my friend to her big 20 week ultrasound for her twin pregnancy. I couldn’t help but remember my own ultrasounds during my pregnancy of Kyra and Jaiden. I listened to her chatter away excitedly on the phone as she repeated what the ultrasound tech said to her husband, who was able to perfectly time his phone call from Iraq. I recalled my and Frank’s excitement at our 20 week ultrasound – a girl and a boy. Healthy. Ours. Finally. Then Jordan. Then Kaelyn. They’re older, but still our babies.
This Sunday is Mothers’ Day. My little ones and I are going to dig holes, get dirty, and plant some pink roses.
Jaiden and Kyra – 2002
Kaelyn and Jordan-2007