You know what they don’t tell you about giving birth? They don’t tell you that the kids don’t actually leave the womb at this time. They just move to the outside of it, bunch up, and hang around there for several more years. 11 years after the birth of my first children, I am still regularly found at the center of a seething mass of little bodies any time I become stationary in the house.
Any time I stop it is as if they are magnetically drawn to it, my womb. The old neighborhood. Gather This is why, for many years, any time you go to the bathroom alone (which is harder to do than one would expect once kids arrive), shut (and lock) the door, you will commonly look down and see little fingers wiggling under the door seeking at all costs to maintain connection to their former home.
Having another child doesn’t seem to drive them off either. When I become pregnant for the second time, the original three did not surrender my lap. They simply kept shifting outward with my ever-expanding tummy, while their new brother sub-let their old place, until they were sitting on my ankles whenever I sat cross-legged on the floor.
There were (and still are) all the trips seeking me in the middle of the night and numerous attempts to sneak into my bed undetected. This same urge to maintain the connection once led to a child sleeping outside the door of my room like a dog for the duration of the one weekend that I managed to arrange a visit with a friend for Northern California because he didn’t understand that I wasn’t there.
It is the same thing that has my five-year-old still occasionally asking if she can shower with me. “Um, not just no, but hell no.” I don’t need a sixth round of questions about my ruined body from the very people responsible for the vandalism. As a matter of fact, I can remember with clarity the time when I was in the shower, running late for a doctors appointment and a little 2 year old came running in yelling “I shower with you!” and began stripping his clothes off, ignoring me while I frantically said, “No. No! Mommy can’t shower with you now!” And then it became a race to get the soap rinsed out of my hair before he could get naked. I won, managing to shut the water off just as the last piece of clothing dropped. “Oh no, the shower is all done. I’m sorry honey. Mommy will have a shower with you next time.” I said, brushing past the stunned little nudie. Punk.
Most everywhere I move through the house these days feels like I am trying to maneuver my way through the crowded streets of New York. “Excuse me. Pardon me. Excuse me. Um, could you please…Make a Hole!”
It is the central GPS in the womb that causes you to take showers while a 2 year old circles you like an electron. It is why movement in any direction in the house pulls them magnetically with you, why you cannot take a step without stepping on one of them. If they could weave their way through my legs while I walked like a cat I believe they would.
At 3 children I was fine with it, although arranging them was a challenge, because they all want to lie down next to you and that presents a mathematical problem. Three kids, two sides…see what I mean. Someone always had to lie down on top of me to make it fair. At four children they started to attach to me like possums. By six it can be positively claustrophobic.
I see the older ones starting to detach a bit these days, and I miss them, but I have been missing them since they were born. But still, I’m ready to breath and have my own space back. I can easily imagine missing these days years from now, but until my memory of the claustrophobia fades, I’m just going to enjoy the freedom to walk without tripping everywhere I go.