Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sweet and Sour

At fourteen i was betrayed by someone who stole my heart, my innocence, my body.
Someone who should have known better than to walk away and end his life after destroying mine.
At fifteen i brought into this world a miniature replica of my past.
I saw his nose echoed in the soft, still forming peak of that small face.
The outline of his lips in that demanding rosebud mouth.
The soft black hair on that tiny head.....
My heart broke again when i gave that memory made flesh into the care of other, more capable arms.
I still feel the trickle of ghost tears on my cheeks.
I still feel an empty space under my heart where i once carried love.
I still feel.

Emma, Lincolnshire UK, Mother

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sweet and Sour

If you asked me if I wanted to relive the first 2 months of my son’s life, I would reply, "Never again!" Two months of almost divorce, always crying, never sleeping (both of us). I loved when he nursed, it meant quiet, a break for me, I’d watch TV, he might even fall asleep! Otherwise, I had the apparently only child that cried in the stroller and wanted to be carried. People would look if I let him cry, so I’d carry him in one arm, pushing with the other, getting unexpectedly very tired arms. Setting him down oh so gently to keep him asleep – and it wouldn’t work and starting over again.

He is almost five, a character, so social, always negotiating with me! We watched a dvd of him at 2 years, last night. We found it by accident. My god, how sweet, how sweet to relive those moments and see them from a different perspective. Pudgy, curls in his hair, that baby-speak, that frantic running to get a toy, stepping on a children’s chair, on tippy toes to turn lights on and off! Is that him? Wow, an angel, my sun, my world. I can’t believe he will ever understand how I love him until he has a child of his own. I never did.

Pamela, Portland, OR and Jakarta, Indonesia, NGO Worker


I was pregnant for three months but only knew for five days. The father held my hand when while we faced giving up the rest of our carefree twenties to be parents. Neither of us could face ending the pregnancy so we named her: Birdy Valentine Turner. I loved giving her his last name although we weren't married. I loved having his child inside of me, even though I had never wanted to be a mother. I ate coconut and slept with one hand over my stomach and the other over his heart.

We decided we would paint her nursery with seahorses and cowgirls, in shades of red and turquoise, like the sands of the desert town I grew up in. He gently touch my face that first night and ask if I felt anything. I wasn't sure, I said, but that was okay. We smiled in the dark and knew our baby was going to be beautiful.

Four days later we lost her. There were tears and screams echoed in the clean tile of our bathroom. I had never wanted to be a mother before and then, betrayed by my body, I wanted nothing more.

It's been three years since I lost her and just two months since I lost him. The holes in my heart are twin shapes, one larger and raw, the other mostly healed. He is out in the world with new mothers-to-be and I am at home, with my seahorse stencils and empty bed.

Casey, Oakland, CA, Barn Ghost

Friday, July 24, 2009


I had my baby boy four months ago and now I’m back at work full time. My partner stays at home – does the cooking, takes care of the little man, shares in his adventures. I rely upon a phone call a day and status updates via text message. We rationalize it by saying that I have the greater earning potential, therefore I should work. I want to be able to give him the best in life, but it boils down to the simple fact that I am able to buy him new things but not witness him play with them. I feel like a failure as a mother. I feel like people are blaming my overwhelming determinism for my return to work. They don’t see that my heart aches to be at home rather than in my office, dressed in my sharp attire. I would kill to be at home in my pyjamas, as long as I was there with him. Instead, I bury my feelings and open yet another email...

Julia, Sydney, Accounts Receivable

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sweet 'n' Sour

There are four.

But I only tell people about the three they can see.  The fourth came first.  He brought innocence and purity, which he took when he left.  I haven’t told the other three about the first.  Because I don’t know how to explain about really bad things.

When the next one came I stupidly forgot to hide the soft part of me.  I left it exposed, like the new skin underneath a band-aid.   I thought that nothing could hurt me any more.

I was wrong.

He cooed like a wounded owl.   And he didn’t speak.  Didn’t have a voice of his own.  So I gave him mine knowing he might still never know what he meant to me.     

The next one clung to me as if we were suddenly reunited after a long trip apart.  Never leaving my side, resting in the place on my chest that seemed designed for the shape of his head.  Asking me if I loved him over and over again until it became a game that we played.  Silly to everyone else but fiercely serious to him.  Making sure that I understood I could never leave him. 

Then, a surprise.  The last one born on the day the first was supposed to be.  Coming into the world warm and kicking and squirming with life.  Joy and guilt combining in a sweetly painful way like cinnamon gum. And in spite of everything, filling me with irrepressible hope.   

For all four.

Tamar, Boston, MA, stay-at-home mom


I’m riding in the back of an ambulance with my eight-month-old. We’ve had a car accident. Max bumped his head on his car seat and the cop at the scene told me we could go right to the ER to have him checked, and of course I said yes. Max is crying, but not because of injury. He hates the strap they have tied around his head, around his body, to keep him still, When we get to the ER,  I run in with Max before the cops. Two doctors swarm around me, but instead of being sympathetic, they snap. “Is this the first time he’s had an injury?”  And then: “What did you do?”


“We had a car crash,” I say, but the doctors whisk Max from my hands and start examining him, shining lights in his eyes, testing his reflexes, and when they look at me, it is with disdain.  It isn’t until one of the cops saunters in and confirms the accident, that things change. One of the doctors comes over and gives Max back to me, settling him in my arms. “He’s fine,” she says, smiling, and I hold him tight and all I can think is both how glad I am they look out for babies, and how dare you, how dare you.

Caroline, Hoboken, NJ, writer

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I have two girls and seeing them grow NOW is wonderful. Babies are way too much work, and I am so glad I am beyond that stage. Ugh, diapers, bottles, sleepless nights, worrying about fevers and cuts from glass tables; it's remarkable these unpredictable, moving objects make it through infancy...

At 7 and 10 they are little ladies and have their own characters that were set in stone from the moment they were conceived. I want them to be mini-me's so I can predict what they will do next and save them from all the stupid things I did.... But I also want them to be themselves and grow more than I ever did and be better than I ever was or will be.

Stop, sit, watch and listen to them. REALLY listen to them, cause they have so much to share and teach us. They are little sponges of curiosity and look up to you for whatever guidance. Be their mom and their friend, which means be strict and fun all at the same time. Although it's such a profound thing to say, it is OUR responsibility to teach and show them right from wrong, which can almost be seen as an 18-year sentence, since you have to be on your best behavior at all times.

I got the best compliment the other day: "Mama, you're like our best friend!"

And that is what keeps us going. My girls ROCK!

Marrit, Aruba and PA, super mama wannabe, model and amateur environmentalist chomping at the bit to do more!