Breakfast Date

Michael is nearly eight months old, though he should be just four and a half months. He is tiny, only twelve pounds, and he is less than two feet long. He has given me faith that the world is a good and generous place.

Every morning, I strap Michael into his stroller, the most expensive piece of baby equipment we own. He struggles to stand up, wiggle out, anything. I smile at him then shout apologies from the other end of the house while I finish packing us up. There is always a forgotten something remembered at the last moment.

We walk every morning, usually after we stop for coffee. One morning, one of our usual breakfast haunts is especially busy. Waiting for my coffee, I catch a petite and well-dress blonde woman flirting with Michael, who grins back at her. We attact women like I used to be now, those women with the seed in their heart for children. And when I ask them, “Do you have any children?” they nearly always give some version of, “Not yet; but someday. I hope.” It is both heartbreaking and wonderful to be on the other side of this conversation.

This blonde woman we meet must be something special; Michael usually prefers brunettes. She chats easily with me about his age and about her neices. She is sweet enough that I can almost imagine handing him off to her and watching him being held by another woman. Almost.

Then she asks the question that these sorts of woman always ask: “Is he your first?” However well-intended, it is always a slap in the face.

She is so fresh and earnest that I am honest with her. “Sort of,” I choke. “Our daughter was stillborn just before I was pregnant with Michael.” I look down to avoid the sympathy in her face, and I mumble “Thank you,” when she says, “I’m sorry.”

Then I take a risk: “I’m just getting so I can say yes to that. That he’s our first. But it always feels like a lie.” It feels cathartic to admit this, and I’m glad to have shared. The more I let these emotions spill over in concentrated little pours, the easier it is to drag around the rest of the murky ones.

As we walk away, Michael screams out in joy. I’m not sure what he means by it, but I’m happy to have him on days like today.


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