“Transpose”–Christin Hutchins Curran

They told me later that you came on a song—a haunting, beautiful, mournful song. I was too far in to notice myself drawing you out into the world on a wordless hymn. The leading edge of each contraction, coming towards me like a Balrog, terrifying and inescapable, conducted each haunting phrase. I sang out as each consecutive crashing breaker overtook me, as if wrathful gods had preordained each one at the birth of the world.

You were worth it, of course.

Afterwards I thought I must know the triumph and endorphin rush that ultra-marathoners crave. The midwife put your wailing, slimy warmth on my chest, and rather than the terror and the uncertainty that would well-up and present itself repeatedly over the coming years, I was filled with a calm, matter-of-fact purpose. I was the mother (was that really possible?) of this amazing, magical, all-consuming person, and you needed me more than I needed “me-time.”

At the risk of cliché, I was amazed at all you taught me about myself. You showed me that my grace, and patience, and willingness to suck-up all manner of boredom and late nights, was a deeper well than I had imagined I would ever need. But you also showed me that I had a hidden darkness that I was loathe to admit to anyone, especially myself. An ugly, despicable nature that I was grateful stayed locked in the cellar, feared by no one but me. Nothing has showed me the range of goodness and repulsiveness that rests between my heart and my head as you have, little one.

Now you are not so little. I walk past your room at night and pause to take in your gorgeous, leggy, gape-mouthed, dreaming form. Could something so delightful and beautiful have come from me? I have never loved and hated someone so much. No other person has made me more in awe at their beauty of heart, nor so inconceivably angry. At the end of a particularly difficult day, when I am filling myself with the black-humor thoughts of throwing you out a window or selling you for parts, we come together in the same type of all-loving, all-trusting, all-knowing embrace, like when the midwife placed you, helpless, on my chest. We laugh at a shared joke, or an amazed revelation of this grand world around you, and you skip down the sidewalk, singing without care of who hears, “I love my mommy!”

Now I know how my mother felt.

CHRISTIN HUTCHINS CURRAN grew up in rural Minnesota and received her degree in Literature and Writing from Bethel University in St. Paul, MN. Since then she has moved with her husband to Raleigh, NC, Manhattan, and most recently San Francisco, where she enjoys writing fiction and music, knitting, exploring, and homeschooling their two daughters.

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