My little sister is pregnant. This is a big deal. A HUGE deal. It’s what we’ve all been waiting for for years.
So, I do what I do every time someone dear is about to become a mother. I go online and find the Dr. Sears parenting books.
Thoughts of my sister as a beautiful, natural mother dance through my head as I search. I see her clothed in a long white dress, a perfect pink infant wrapped close to her heart as she nurses her in a garden of roses.
I find “The Pregnancy Book” and the “The Baby Book” and put them both in my shopping cart. The mouse hovers over the purchase button, ready to send those blessed books sailing on a cloud of magical stardust, through the virtual world, and into my sister’s expectant arms.
And then I remember. And I stop.
Dr. Sears, oh, Dr. Sears. My guru, my mentor, my parenting expert. How many sleepless nights have you brought me while a little one (more often three) curled into me, kicking me in the face and peeing on my new sheets?
How many potential friends have you scared away as I openly breastfed my 2-year-old in the library, the grocery store, that fancy kosher sushi restaurant in Jerusalem?
How many backaches have I endured towing around my chubby, hooting, hollering, hair-pulling toddler in a back wrap while the other ladies strode along the sidewalk, pushing strollers and chatting about the new manicures they were going to get for their husbands’ upcoming office parties?
How many manicures have I foregone? How many office parties have I missed?
How many years has it taken me to find myself again? The self that was on the bottom of a heap of wiggling, giggling, ever-needy little ones for so many years. The self that is still searching for a new purpose after a whole decade of putting their needs first. The self that almost forgot she has needs. The self whose needs have come rushing at her in full force, clawing at her with twice the hunger that those needy toddlers had. (And, man, they were HUNGRY!)
Oh, Dr. Sears, you wise wizard of child-led weaning, you master of maternal instincts, you critic of cry-it-out. I have let you guide my ship and you have led me far, far from the safety and convenience of conventional parenting. Way out into the rocky unknown waters of instinct and gut intuition.
You have led me out there and I have trusted you, and, just when I was starting to get my sea legs, you abandoned me.
I can’t deny that you were right about many things. My hulking 10-year-old boy still snuggles in my lap and tells me his secrets. My delicious 8-year-old son whispers to me of hurt feelings and secret crushes. My 4-year-old daughter is the freest, most confident spirit I know.
I thank you for those things. I really do.
But, what about me? What happens to me now that I’ve given so much of myself to them? How do I find the way back to shore?
When will you write a book about THAT, my dearest Dr. Sears?
My finger stays poised in the air.
From out of nowhere, my son comes hurling into the room, all flaying arms and thundering feet. He tackles me in a mountain of a bear hug and instantly my heart melts into a puddle of mama mush.
I take a deep breath and hit the purchase button.
Bon voyage, little sister!