Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
The Velocity of Babies

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Because a time does come to start thinking about babies or, more rightly, a baby; and since that time seems to come sooner than expected -- watching young mothers sway by the window, babes in arms, babes in strollers, babes on little tricycles -- due, in all probability, to the surprising abundance of families at the beginning of this century, and the coincidence of one's own age, marital status, and idleness; and since watching over small plants in front of the sole window receiving adequate sunlight (two pots of primrose, a bushy succulent, a forced iris) has not squelched any of these thoughts but has rather stoked them, lulling the ruminator into believing herself a true caretaker, a nurturer supreme, a sturdy but gentle giver of life; and since, in spite of this all, there remains a nagging sense of ill-timing, of rushing things (as in "let's not rush things"); since all of these things remain present in the flow of events, in the water advancing as an army over and down a body while bathing, or rather in, swallowed along with the very thing (a small white pill) that will render discussion moot, stopping it (talk and baby) before it begins; since the sum total is that there is no baby and will not be one for some time, until the cows come home, until hell freezes over, until it just happens; in accordance with all that is somehow right, it is left to consider what has been told during an interview to the aspiring nurturer.

For starters: "Parents often bring their babies with them on airplanes, to visit their in-laws and whatnot."
Um-hmm.

"And, as a flight attendant and mother my own self, I think it's important for your readers to know that though they may want to take advantage of the airlines' generosity -- you know, when they say you can just hold the baby and save on the ticket? -- because it is very expensive, we know that, to be a parent."

Sure.

"Anyway, we feel that if parents actually knew what could happen -- in cases of severe turbulence..."

What could happen?

"Well, it's just that parents really think -- and I understand this because I'm a parent -- parents really think they can hold their babies tight on their laps, and everything will be just fine. And sometimes, you know, in cases of severe turbulence, which have happened a few times in recent months, I don't know if you've seen on TV..."

Yes, I did. What about the babies?

"You can't just hold on to a baby in that kind of turbulence. No matter how much you love them. Because babies, well, how can I put it -- in that kind of situation, babies turn into ... little human cannonballs. They can shoot out of your hands at fifteen, twenty, even thirty miles per hour. A little human cannonball flying from the arms of its mama and hitting against the ceiling, or you know, thrown across the cabin and hitting a passenger..."

Really? Thirty miles per hour?

"That's what I'm told. So when you're writing this article you may want to mention that. It's something the airlines and flight attendants think that parents should consider when making their next travel plans."

Well. Yeah.

"You'd be surprised. That free ticket can sound real good, you know? But really, when I think of those babies flying overhead -- as a mother and as a flight attendant? ..."

And yet, considering these facts, a young woman might easily understand, even relate to the foolish mothers -- because it's the mothers' laps and arms that babies are wrenched away from by the sudden and violent drop, that's for sure; might believe that there is a rightness in the mother's confidence in their physical strength; that mothers (and those who want to be them) know that this bone-crushing love, usually thought of as an emotional state, is actually a physical force residing in the arms, the hips, the breasts; that this confidence is what will severely injure, paralyze, or kill the babies, the very objects of this love; that this irony will in the end probably not change many minds, or sell many tickets, because what mothers (or those who want to be them) sense is that the speed with which babies fly from their mothers' arms is, if anything, beautiful; the velocity of babies is cause for jubilation, not horror; it means a baby can fly, and quickly; and in the flying, in the velocity, a mother can feel, fiercely, You're mine.

Take me with you.


Emily Bloch lives in Amherst, MA, and is the mother of Sylvia, age 2. She is a freelance writer for magazines and websites. She has received the Colorado Review’s Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction, and was recently awarded an Artist Grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. And she holds on very tightly to Sylvia, every chance she gets.


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