Other women don’t tell you that you will find:

your son’s rubber shark toy in the pocket of your raincoat when you arrive over a half-hour late to the bar for the mom’s night out you had organized

only coated one of your eye’s lashes is successfully coated in mascara you scrambled to put on as your son screamed for you to come back upstairs

a stain on your leggings from your son sitting on your thigh in the midst of trying to go to the potty for an hour at bedtime which is what made you late in the first place

bite marks, because milk teeth dig deeper than you think, on your shoulder from your son’s refusal to stay or go and then his longing to go or stay in the bathroom, his need for sleep despite himself and all his uncontainable urges

a text from your husband to tell you your son is finally asleep and that you are loved and that he is sorry he didn’t help more and that you should enjoy yourself

salt, everywhere, your son’s or yours, on your collarbone and dress and cheeks and hands, from tears or sweat or the coating of mini pretzel crisps saline’s origins are indiscernible now

pretzels, also everywhere, especially in your bra, or cereal or gummy candy or crackers or shriveled fruit slices, any food that is easily transportable becomes forgotten somewhere

a stamp on your wrist from last night’s concert outing that hasn’t washed off despite soap and rain (and how could you let yourself go out two nights in a row anyway?)

years, tomorrow (today as of 10 minutes ago now) will be eight since you’ve been married, a dozen since you’ve loved the same man, and you think about counting years in eggs or donuts or cookies or twelve-packs of beer or cases of wine or the age at which a Jewish girl like you is deemed to be a woman, so much sweetness comes in dozens

self-doubt, anxiety that lodges in your throat and rises—a dozen stones or swallowed socks or clumped up baby wipes or sopping diapers—especially when you are praised, perhaps brought on by it, by praise you feel you don’t deserve

fellow moms who will listen without judgement and encourage you to move on to your second sour beer

Mamas who will tell you, “look up Imposter Syndrome,” so you do, and they are right, this is you, this feeling deep inside that you are a fraud when it comes to everything except this

this, motherhood, this role, this you, Mama, irrevocably, wholly, truly yours, so even on days when you feel you could be much better, when you raise your voice or slam the door or even slap back without realizing what you have done until the tears are streaming and they are mostly yours, even then, when you have taken away your son’s rubber shark toy and carried it with you to the bar, when you squeeze it in your pocket thinking of him, how he is so much like a shark in his reluctance to sleep, his constant need for water and motion, you recall how earlier tonight, you let him jump through puddles dressed in his shark raincoat and galoshes and how he gave a toothy smile and held your hand and loved finding you, Mama, your face in every puddle

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