I heard a baby cry the other day, not an annoying cry, but an ache for their mamma that had put her down.
I was in a locker room changing with my nine-year-old and I felt it stir in me, that feeling, the longing I have for babies.
I couldn't help myself, I turned to her and said, I miss that sound.
It fell out before I even knew what I was saying, and I immediately felt bad. Did I just make this tired mom trying to do it all feel like the "one day you'll miss this" bull that I hate so much?
But that wasn't the look on her face. She instantly softened, I could tell she was on the verge of apologizing for her crying baby and having a stranger fall into such deep longing for little, she just said, "you do?" and just like that, I found myself talking to a stranger.
I didn't get her name, but she knows the names of both my kids and I know hers. I know their ages and I know how she is doing. The struggle of two and all that comes with it. I saw in her what I feel, that motherhood can be so lonely and intimidating, but when someone extends the faintest of branches, you cling.
So, I made a joke about how babies trick you into thinking you've got this all under control and before you know it, you just don't.
She told me about her older son, I told her about my youngest son.
I didn't ask her if she was done, like we are done.
I remember holding you and thinking, one last time.
I remember crying on the edge of my bed with my nine-day-old baby feeling loss, loss of babies, loss of little, loss of sounds, loss.
There was no connection to the present.
There was so much loss of the future me not having babies.
You were my last first.
So future me made me long for the baby I was actually holding.
One last time, as I held you.
One last time, as I fed you at 4am.
One last time, as I rocked with you.
One last time, as I sang to you.
One last time, as I bathe you and think about how this window will close hard one day.
One last time, as we say our goodnight routines.
One last time, as I read to you.
One last time, as I hold you too tight.
I know I still live there, in future me.
Future me with a kid in college.
Future me with kids living anywhere in the world.
Future me with grow-ups who were my little faces, holding their own little ones.
Future me with a quiet home.
Future me that has to be more than just your mom because I can't get lost in our future.
I need to be excited about future me.
I said goodbye to babies, I did.
I closed the chapter after we finished the last sentence.
I promise that the book is set, it's been written. We put the final touches on babies and it's been printed.
But when I do go back and re-read what we created, it's so beautiful that I find myself aching for them.
It's me standing in a locker room, talking to a stranger about how I miss the sound of baby beautiful.
It's me reaching out and wiping one little tear away from a little one that isn't mine and telling her, you're okay, your mom is right here.
And as I watched you scoop her up, hold her and find something to keep her occupied, I said goodbye.
I took hold of my daughter's hand and as we walked to the car, I whispered to her how happy I am that she started this for me.
I told her that I loved her and was proud to be her mom.
I wanted to just thank you for finding me.
You both found me out there and although you will start to walk your own way very soon, future me sees it more than you do, I looked down at how little your hand is right now and squeezed.