The contrast could not have been more stark.
I was standing in line at the post office sending an incredibly overdue care package to a friend who had a baby in the spring and an overdue package with a homemade pregnancy & postpartum journal to a friend who is due in just a month.
I started reading “Love with Teeth” by Adrienne Jones in the new (not even online yet!) issue of Brain,Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers. The piece explores her intensely high needs baby and her own intense reactions to the nonstop crying along with the surprise of not being a contented mother this time when she’d already done it so well before.
As someone who had an intense but thankfully social and happy baby/toddler/child, and as someone considering whether or not she is up for another, the essay had my heart pounding.
The post office was swamped, and even though I knew my parking meter outside had probably expired, I didn’t want to be called up to the counter because I’d have to put the magazine down.
It burned a hole in my handbag as I did one more errand before I would let myself savor the ending of the piece.
I put on my hazard lights at the curb and ran into the UPS store to drop off a fully prepared Zappos return. From the back emerged Samantha, one of my former students. I remembered her being pregnant a while back and asked, “Did you have a baby?”
“Yes I did! He’s three months old and it’s going great. It’s the best thing you could ever imagine!” She could not have gushed more genuinely if she’d been a geyser. I didn’t have my son or any kind of mommy gear with me except the magazine in my purse. I smiled, “That’s great. Congratulations.”
“You have a great day!” she told me, adding my teacher name.
It’s not easy to read about someone else’s pain, but when they write about it as well as Jones, it’s profound. Especially when you’re essentially smacked in the face with an example of what that described experience is decidedly not.
Thank you to Jones for writing about something so important and raw and also to my student for providing such a ridiculous and yet also real counterpoint.