Of Bodies

The other morning after I put on my dress, I was trying to decide which sweater to put on with it, and I thought, "Well, I've got that nice pink cardigan that should fit me now." And then I realized it was Henrietta's sweater that I was thinking of. I had just pulled it out of her "too big" box that morning.

Things like this happen a lot, for me, that I mix up our clothes. I'm as excited--okay, much more excited--by her wardrobe as my own, and when she has something new, I tend to think I have something new.

Is this just more than strange?

This also happens sometimes with our bodies, that I mix them up. When she's congested, I'll forget for a moment and think it's me that's congested. When I stretch my arms above my head or when I curl up in bed, I'll feel for a second that I look like her, that I am as small and safe and cozy as she is. Does this even make sense, what I'm saying? That I'm so close to her physically, that sometimes we seem to overlap.

Being a mother means having two bodies to be responsible for. It was one thing when the baby was inside of me, and the responsibility was taxing but automatic, but now it's really something I have to work at. I bathe two bodies. I cut the fingernails for two bodies (I hate cutting baby fingernails. Hate. It.). I feed two bodies. When I go to the grocery store, I bring two bodies in: one I walk, one I carry in a car seat.

This was never more clear than one day when I was in the city for something, and I stopped for lunch before I ran to the next errand. I was very hungry, and Henrietta was also very hungry, so I ordered quickly from the menu, and propped her up on the table to eat beneath a nursing cover while I waited for my meal. When they brought it out, I tucked a napkin into the top of the cover and let it drape down to the table, and then I held her to me with one hand and brought food to my mouth with the other, spilling it down the napkin. It was the most inelegant meal I'd ever eaten, but it got the job done. There was one other pair of people in the restaurant, and as they left they gave me some weird looks, but I didn't care. I had two bodies to feed. And when you have two hungry bodies, you're sometimes inelegant.


Katherine said…
I didn't mix up my daughter's clothes with mine, but I can relate to the union between the bodies. I nursed my daughter for 14 months, but it has been four months since I weaned her. I still catch myself wondering whenever my stomach or intestines are upset if my daughter will feel the same way, and I have to remind myself that no, I am not passing her any antibodies anymore since she stopped nursing.
ginger said…
I totally get the body union. That second nine months of external gestation is cool. I think milk transfer must add to the confluence effect too. And when my first learned to speak several words before saying "mom," a friend assured me that to him, I wasn't something special to identify, but rather an extension of himself.
Russanne said…
That circle of life is a really crazy one. Eternity rather. You feeding yourself which provides food for your little one which then makes you hungry again and then you're back again.

I love your thoughts! You have a beautiful mind.
eden said…
my sister's pediatrician told her to 'cut' her baby's nails by biting them off. that way you're able to know that you're not cutting them too low, and the nails are soft enough that it's not that hard to do.

just thought i'd mention that since you said you hate to cut her nails. maybe that will help... (:
Deja said…
Interesting, Katherine. I do worry every time my stomach feels funny, that I'll pass it to her. I have yet to have a stomach bug, knock on wood. It's a strange job, this nursing/mothering.

Ginger, it's got to be odd to not be the first word, but I'll bet she doesn't see me separate any more than yours did, and I wouldn't be surprised if she goes for "dada" or some variation of "kitty."

Thanks, Russanne. Your brain is one of my favorites around.

Eden, I've heard the nail biting/trimming trick, but I feel like it's kind of yucko. ;) I do it when she's asleep, and that makes it easier, but it's tricky to find a time when she's sleeping and not swaddled (hands free) and I have my baby nail clipper. I've started carrying it in my purse, since that's more likely to happen in the car than at home. Thanks for the tip! Maybe I'll try it.
ginger said…
That is exactly what miles said first..."Dad" followed by "dog." I thought "mom" would come next, but it turned out he was working on "Max" (the dog's name).
Terry Earley said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Genevieve Beck said…
So, this is always strange, but it happens with every baby. I'll be burping them and they're often a little uncomfortable and squirmy. Somehow, I'll be the one that burps and I always think that should help them feel better.

So I totally get the body union thing. :)
Deja said…
I love that, Genev! That's exactly what I'm talking about.
I just want to say how happy it makes me to read your posts. I have to admit it makes me miss you dearly because I can just see all the scenarios playing out and hear you describing them as if we were still living together and at BYU and you are telling all of us about your day. Please please please keep writing. I love it!
Amara said…
Love this!! Of course. And you deserve to park in the handicap parking spot too I say. They probably give out placards for Siamese Twins right(am I super duper politically incorrect here?)?

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