3:30 PM February 8th, 2010.

I started pushing.

Exactly 16 years ago I was finally allowed to push.

25 minutes later, it was all over.

That excruciating moment of passion

when his body tore through my own and into the world

was feverous.

The room was electric, as if on fire.

It seemed as though all the voltage of the universe had converged in my solar plexus which contracted to push the little boy out of myself.

I remember the desperation to be free of this huge invader—I just wanted him out of me.


Such violence


to release him

and myself from the easy togetherness of the previous nine months

in which breath, heartbeat, and movement were harmonious.

During the pregnant months, few were the moments when he reminded me of his imminent separateness – the passage of a foot under my ribs, pressing on my organs, making my belly look possessed.  He would move when I was still and he would hiccup in utero during my feminist ethics class.

But mostly,

he was conveniently packed inside my body which did my bidding, not his.

His head was lodged for so long in my birth canal that he emerged deformed—

his cone-head was alarming.

I wonder if his current frustrations with me date back to that moment when my being had a vice grip on his brain.

Exactly 16 years ago I was finally allowed to push.

In 25 minutes, it was all over.

Freedom.  Nowaday it is always freedom that he wants from me.

More and more freedom.

“Can I come home at one instead of midnight?”

“Would you make yourself scarce when my friends come over?”

“Would you let me fail history in peace?”

Manifestations of our separateness are satisfying moments for Ben—probably an aftereffect of those many hours literally trapped in a tunnel inside my body, not yet even breathing on his own.

While he was in my womb, I stroked his back daily, up and down, up and down, stroking us both.

My womb provided everything for him.

I think of this sometimes when he,

with his man body,

waits quietly at the breakfast table for me to pour the cereal and milk into his bowl.

As if he really needs my help.

I think this is our little dance, our little homage, to the months when this was an effortless process during which my body was his body’s servant.

My body was his body’s servant. We both somehow remember this.

And as much as I resent it, and  want it to stop, and as much as I want my boy to grow into the kind of man who will serve others and not expect to be served, and as much as I want him not to need me, I confess.

I love it when he needs me.

I want to serve him.

I want to be his mother.

I want to pour his milk occasionally—

as long as we can look at each other, and laugh at the absurdity of the scene.

Exactly 16 years ago I was finally allowed to push.

In 25 minutes, it was all over.

Just as I was on fire when I pushed him out,

he is now firing me.

I am being fired.  He is growing up.

And what do I do now with this body full of stretch marks, this back sore from years of carrying, and this wealth of knowledge about how to be a mother?

I just need to do what I do.

I marvel in awe, and slowly shake my head with a sigh and a sideways grin, and flush with pride, and twist with worry, and occasionally cry with loneliness,

and rejoice in the miracle.

Of him.



And walking away.

It is now 4:15.

16 years ago right now, little tiny Ben with a white cap on his head was placed in my arms for the first time.  I gazed at this baby and felt his own oneness.

I was still hot from the battle of his birth.

As I held him and gazed down into his little face, I felt a warm glow of satisfaction. He was mine. He was not mine. Mine. And not at all mine.

But boy,

oh boy,

was he ever beautiful.