Barney Rubble toes.
That’s what my parent’s called them. Toes that looked like they were attached to the feet of someone who had pushed a fictitious, prehistoric car through the dust and rocky terrain of the stone age. Long and gangly toes, with rounded edges to them.
They aren’t pretty.
When I woke up from having my son, everything was a daze.
I was counting backward from ten when everything went dark. It was a welcome darkness. Everything hurt. I was terrified. The doctors decided that this was the best course. Normally, I would have been apprehensive to general anesthesia. There wasn’t time to mind it.
I woke up and stared at the white, drop ceiling at the hospital. My doctor tapped my shoulder. She told me I had a son. I knew he was Jerry. It was time to go and meet him.
The nurses were so cheerful while I felt like I had been run over by a bus. Those groggy folks I had seen on medical dramas on the television, dazed and disoriented and confused? They were me now.
The nurses cheerful urged that I hold my belly. The thought of it turned my stomach, so I decided not to. That is, until they skidded the side of my gurney into the wall on a turn and I was jostled ever so slightly, and I felt jabs of pain in my abdomen. I begrudgingly cupped my hands over my belly and my new scar as the nurse laughingly declared, “oops!” at her mistake.
I heard my son cry when I got into the room. For the first time. My husband wasted no time whatsoever bringing him over to me. My eyes were closed since it was too much work to have them open. I turned my head over and opened them. And I distinctly remember the wave of relief passing over me at the first sight of him.
He was perfect.
He still is.
I can’t be the only parent out there who worries about what she’s given to her children, right?
Will they have my big nose? Will they have acne, too? Will they end up with my toes? Kind of, we will have to wait and see and oh, heavens, yes.
I joke sometimes and say that some of the things I am most insecure about, physically, my children have inherited from me. And yet, they’re still pretty perfect looking.
Still, I worry about more than genetics.
Will my children be insecure? A hapless people pleaser with an inability to say no? Will they want to be all things to all people?
Will they change their opinions because they think it suits the current tide of things? Will they be stubborn?
And my daughters…
Oh, heavens to besty, what had I done to them before they were even brought into this world?
I’m worried about them fitting into more than just size 10 shoes.
I worry about all of my children, for sure. But sometimes, I put undo pressure on myself when I think about my daughters. Will they see me scowling at my reflection in the mirror? Displeased with my complexion and my hair and my face and the whole lot of it? Will they learn insecurity from me?
Will I be able to teach them about femininity and what it means to be a woman? And will I teach them that they don’t just need to be great women, they need to be great people?
Because they will look at me one day, and they’ll look at the things that I have either handed them or haven’t handed them, and they will judge me for it. It sounds harsh, but it’s true.
As Clara comes more and more of age, as she becomes more and more self-aware and self-conscious, I see newfound responsibilities nearly every day.
I have to remind myself though to not be defeated right out of the gate. Before the race really gets started.
I got to hold her the other night and tell her something that I have never told her before.
When I first heard her name. Clara.
It was my great grandmother’s. And from the moment I heard the name, I knew that it was mine. I kept it in my heart for a long, long time. And when I enthusiastically began seeing this really cute guy that I had just met, and things quickly turned serious and we started to really see the potential and possibility for greater things than flirtation, I shared that name with him and he loved it.
And years later when we became pregnant with our first child, and we waited until birth to find out the sex, we eagerly awaited to see if we’d have a Jerry or a Clara.
We had our sweet Jerry first. It just wasn’t time yet.
But 15 months later, when I found out that we were expecting again, we both knew. We knew that this was Clara. But it was still a surprise and a joy when that inkling were confirmed at a sonogram appointment.
See, long before I gave her my feet, I gave her a name.
I gave her hope.
I idealized her.
I loved her, in some small part. But it was no small thing.
And I see her tucking her animals all in a row in her bed, every night. The way that I used to. Half a dozen animals, squeezed in side-by-side next to her. All sharing the same blanket, in equal parts. She can’t turn one away, like I never could.
I see her whisper to her toys. I see her nurture them. I see her taking every word to heart, whether good or bad. I see me in her when she strokes my face, a demonstrative and tactile person like her mother.
I may be sorry that I gave her my big feet and lopsided toes. Or her big front teeth and hair that easily knots.
But every time I feel like I am failing, every time I think I get it wrong because she doesn’t get the best of me, I will try to think of the things that I was giving her, long before she was even here. Before she was even a twinkle in my eye.
Motherhood is a lot of what we don’t feel like we give. But motherhood is surely marked and made by what we do give. By what we try. By what we hope. By how we love.
I love her. I have always loved her.
And I always will.
There is hardly anything better than that.