|photo by Jane Zarzynski when Penelope Jane was four months old.|
It was surreal for me to show up at this group with my "big girl" and our tupperware full of orange slices, and see all those moms with teeny tiny babies. Even though I've been photographing quite a few newborns lately, when I'm by myself and in photography mode, I don't really think about things the same way as when I was holding hands with my toddler trying to prevent her from literally stepping on babies all over the floor.
Penny seemed so big.
I felt like I was in The Christmas Carol, holding hands with someone magical while attending scenes from my own past [but not as grumpy]. I didn't really know any of these moms (my "crew" didn't make it to the event), but the scene was the same. This room, the saint-of-a-lactation-consultant, these moms, these babies... it hit me hard that Penelope used to be one of those babies. I used to be one of those moms, lovingly obsessing over every detail of my infant's life -- weighing her every week -- charting every sleep, diaper, feeding -- marveling at every coo or smile. Crying among friends about lack of sleep or clogged ducts or worse.
"Look at all the sweet little babies, Penny."
"Sweet babies, mama. Right there, sleepy."
As I was intercepting Penny's fingers from helping herself to a handful of coffee cake from the buffet table, I felt the baby girl in my tummy move around, as she has been doing more and more this past week. Reminding me: Oh yeah, I've got another baby in here.
I looked around the room at all the infants, an aha moment, and quickly felt a sense of unsure.
In a few months, I will be right back where I was -- not a brand new mom, but a new mom to this baby. Because this baby is going to be different from Penny. She might not nurse, or sleep, or act the same. She might be huge. Or teenier. Or fussy. Or colicky. Or all kinds of unpredictable things.
I felt overwhelmed at the idea that all my mostly-successful mothering of big sister might truly be of no help to me with this one. I will be starting over, and she, already, is her own person. I, already, have two... separate... children.
This Mother's Day that's what I'll be thinking about and praying about: my two daughters and how to mother them separately as they need, but love them the same. That I can remember how to mother a newborn in the midst of covering new ground with my toddler every day.
I'll be praying for some courage and strength and wisdom to compile during these last few months of pregnancy, to prepare me from when new baby girl comes to meet us.