Two years ago, I carried you around everywhere I went. This wasn’t because I was doing a dry-run in attachment parenting – I didn’t even know what that was at that point in my life – but because you lived in me. When you were in my belly, still a part of me, there was nothing more than Us.
Us was my new reality.
Us was every day.
Us was perfect.
To be perfectly honest, though, Us was freaking bizarre at first.
On a Sunday in July, I sat on my bed and told Daddy that you were coming. I had trouble believing it myself, since at that point the ratio of Me to You on this planet was about 466734576 to one. You weren’t much, but there was still enough of you to make me not just an I. I took a leap of faith and believed what the little stick told me, that you were there.
You shouldn’t believe everything you read, but when you read two lines on a pee stick, you tend to start switching your pronouns around.
You started to grow and I had less of a problem believing that there was an Us. You got bigger and bigger – a legume, a lemon, a butternut squash, a watermelon – and then one night two years ago today, you came. They put you in my arms and I knew that Us was real. What I had was a person, and no one with a grasp on reality has ever walked around the supermarket with a head of lettuce and referred to themselves as Us.
But it was then that I knew that while the term “us” applied – there was, after all, we two – it fell short. Us implies mutuality, a balance. And kid, I shouldered it all. For the last two years, you have taken me for granted and known nothing but the motions of our day that I put in motion. You’ve floated in and out of sleep and wakefulness, always knowing that I was there like a carton of milk in the fridge or a box of graham crackers in the cupboard. I joked with my friends that I was your assistant, but the only thing that made my attempt at levity even somewhat humorous was the fact that I was not merely assisting. I was doing it all for Us.
Loving so incredibly much.
I carried Us Both until my back and wrists and heart and brain hurt. It was hard and gorgeous, the most glorious honor I’ve ever had. I will continue to give myself to you in whatever capacity you’ll need me, always.
But still, there were days that I thought maybe a better pronoun should exist to describe what we were. A pronoun that indicated that one of the You’s of the Us didn’t even know life without the other You existed, a pronoun that nodded at the other You’s inability to shut the other out, even when she wanted to.
But our English language is clumsy enough.
Better just stick with the Us and hope that we find our balance without rewriting the dictionary.
And then, a couple days ago, we were playing outside next to our apartment building. I sat down on the hill and watched you toss stones into a ditch. You glanced over at me and then started trundling up the hill with your strong little legs, putting your game on pause for a moment.
You sat down next to me and folded your legs to make them look like mine. And then you said something.
“Mommy. Cee. Us.”
My little two-year-old girl, you will never know what those words mean to me. You are my Us, and I am so grateful that I am yours. You are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever known and I cannot wait for all we have in store.