When I first held you in my arms, you were smoldering and you melted against me like burning tar.
In the beginning, our life together was slow and thick. I questioned everything. There are no answers, my mother told me when I called her for a twenty minute consultation about your seemingly endless crying, it’s just trial and error. And I did. try. everything.
You were once connected to me through here, I whispered to you and pointed to your protruding belly knobs. You smiled at me with shiny, slippery gums.
At nine months, Samantha fell down a flight of stairs because I turned my back to toast a piece of bread. At a year, she ate a piece of plastic only to be saved by my father’s quick thinking as he pulled it from her throat at just the right time.
At eighteen months, Penelope screamed herself to sleep every night for a month. Inside of me, where the guilt was supposed to reside, lived only exhaustion and a weight the shape of your lips.
I dreamed of fire consuming me. I made my father call me every morning to make sure I was alive. If I don’t answer, I told him, come and get the girls.
I dragged the two of you through early development, and you dragged me into motherhood with equal force.
Then, one day, it wasn’t so hard.
Yesterday, the two of you helped me put up the Christmas tree. Samantha’s arms draped in soft white as she fed me a string of lights, and Penelope carefully hanging the ornaments we’ve collected since the origin of our family. When it was all over and the glow was celestial, I looked at you for the first time in your short lives and realized how easy it is to love you now.
I once had a man tell me that I am hard to love because I demand too much of people.
You’ve never had a hard time with it.
I put you to bed tonight, the night before you turn eight, and I held you in my arms, pressed you both hard against me. You were once connected to me, I whispered into the still of the darkness, through here, I said, pointing to your thin slice of a belly button.