By Daphne Biener
Today I held something precious, tiny and naked. I ached with tears that I couldn’t in good consciousness let fall. Pointy bones and little muscles barely contained within translucent, goose-pimply skin. Helpless and vulnerable. Different but familiar and just like that I was brought back: a first time mother holding my own five-pounder. Brand new and totally reliant on me despite my scant resume for the position. Now seven years in and still I’m rarely prepared for this swinging trapeze ride for which I willingly cashed in my life. I shifted the little one, and though my nipples have grown too cold for a sympathy leak, damn if I didn’t feel just an ounce of colostrum dribble out of my post-post partum heart.
Supporting the chilly body and resisting an urge to snuggle it closer to my chest, I set the baby down in the pan and sprinkled it with salt and paprika. For alas, this naked little thing is headed for our oven. It is a chicken, and cute or not in all its evocative nudity, its name is Dinner.
How do you know when it’s time to become a parent? How did I make that leap from unstained clothes, sleep-drenched nights, and dinners out to being completely owned by another creature? For me, it came in the form of a heavy-handed tap from the nature channel. Let’s call it the maternal call of the wild.
It started out predictably enough. I’d tear up and fork over large amounts of cash for that hungry little boy with big eyes and flies on his nose. But then it switched species. Soon I was oohing and aahing over anything pint-sized. The slide down the evolutionary chain was slippery, and I moved quickly from kittens and puppies to darling snakes and sweet crocodile hatchlings. I had to have my own little thing, and soon. Turns out my mothering instinct is a ticking reptile egg.
Month six of pregnancy number one: I was spending a leisurely Saturday afternoon making dinner. Chicken parmesan, my husband’s favorite and a staple of our diet. Something I had prepared countless times and yet I was struck immobile, one poultry bosom dangling inches from its egg bath. I screamed and Dave came running, legitimately concerned as I stood awash in chicken breast and tears. How could I, I gulped? How could I even consider bathing a mother’s breast in her own immature offspring? Dave, confused but stoic, offered to do the dunking but no that would not set me free. I couldn’t be party to such evil. Gripped with panic I started to reconsider the whole baby thing. Who the hell was I to reproduce? I, clearly capable of such unspeakable evil? We ordered a pizza.
And now, why once again am I being haunted by my fowl-feathered-friends? Maybe it has to do with that bridge we just burned (cauterized, actually.) One tiny zap of the surgeon’s laser and the link to our child-production days is forever severed. No more babies. No more late nights and no more stinky diapers. No more gigantic bag of tricks dragged along in a hopeless attempt to buy silence enough for a quick morning latte. No more tiny tushies raised to the sky in cribs. No more naked bodies fitted perfectly into the nook of my neck. No more sweet breath against my face.
Heads-up Dave, we’re having pizza again for dinner. There’s not going to be roasted chicken in our house for a while.
You can read more of Daphne’s work here on the mama bird diaries or visit her site, Sestina Queen.