Nina was six at her first recital. A butterfly of a girl with expressive eyes, a quick mind, and dancing feet, she was fond of red glitter shoes and clashing prints. Back then, the bullying at school was subtle: poorly disguised whispers, backs turned just far enough, laughs ending abruptly or—worse—following her as she walked by.
Even over a year after the trip to the zoo, I still thought about that baboon. Staring at my phone, after a few scrolls, the dark image of the baboon haunted me. I am the baboon, I thought. Motherhood had confined me.
But look: Here he is, wearing this hat that he thought, all on his own, to go out and buy. Relief floats through me, and I sense my tightly coiled muscles begin to loosen their grip. As in the past, when my parental worries weren’t borne out, I feel grateful.
I took the Metro to work, looking at the other young women commuters, and wondering which of them was also among the one in four. Were any of them also miscarrying right now?
Tonight, when I slip between my own sheets, I know that we will be the same, Kate and I—each of us held beneath the weight of our fears, the things that chase us through the dark hours, the anxieties that only change their faces as we age, but never truly let us go.
My mother had never been late for a concert. Preparations for each 7:30 performance began in the morning when she would hang her white “band” shirt like a basket of begonias on the front porch, where it could bleach in the best sun.
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