It is 8:30 on a Friday night. You had to stay at work late because of A Thing, and now you’re home. You’re home, and you’re sitting at your computer, and the baby you’re sitting with is latched onto your boob and slowly suckling herself into oblivion.
You’re looking at Facebook. Your friends at work went out after their day ended, and they’re having drinks and going to movies. They’re tagging photos of alcohol. Drinks that look quite glorious. Drinks you would like to be drinking.
Meanwhile, the spit-up your baby sprayed on you is drying, and you are taking this opportunity at the boob to trim her fingernails, which, seriously, grow at a rate of an inch a day. The baby is doing her best to test the theory that children can grow back their fingertips. It’s a delicate process, clipping a squirmy baby’s fingernails.
You look at the photos and you think, “I would liked to have seen [MOVIE] tonight.” But you can’t, of course, because you’re sitting at a desk, clipping a baby’s fingernails, nursing her to sleep. Meanwhile, because you were so late, your husband is off getting the family feast — cheeseburgers.
Your friends will move on to other bars, other places. They’ll post more photos. On Monday, they’ll have stories. What did you do with your Friday? “I kept my daughter from becoming a decuple finger amputee.” They won’t get that.
And you don’t quite get it either. Why it is you’re so content to sit here with the baby across your lap, clipping her nails, looking at pictures of splendidly manicured alcohol. You were not maternal in your youth. You liked kids, but you didn’t adore kids. Most of your dolls wound up with severe haircuts, a la G.I. Jane. You babysat for money, not because you thought children were fun and cute.
But this you know: maternal gene or not, when you walked through the door, nearly two hours late, your baby turned and smiled at you, and all you wanted to do was hold her. You were so happy to get home in time to see that. 9 PM is her bedtime, after all.
Your baby is now asleep. Floppy-sleep, too — the sleep where you can move her without consequences. Chances are she’ll stay that way for a few hours, and then wake you up. You used to love to sleep in. You haven’t slept in since before she was born.
But you also know in the morning she’ll open her eyes and smile. And smile. And smile. At you. At her father. At the warmth and security you create for her.
She can’t say it yet, but she’s saying it anyway.
I love you.
You have something to do on this Friday night.
Being her mom.