In place of a child, I had a puppy.
We sat in the afternoon sun, me and him, nestled in my arms head in my hand, my nose in his soft hair. A quiet afternoon in a quiet suburb, the sound of children outside, loitering on the way home from school. A timeless afternoon.
He grew bigger. Stronger than me, more energetic, and I could hardly keep up with him, wondered how I did keep up, but he gave me energy too, that I didn’t have without him.
I would take him to coffee, to the restaurant, we would perch on iron chairs in manicured neighbourhoods. Adult, refined places where I had to check his unruly behaviour, see to it that he reflected the kind of etiquette that made pride blossom in my maternal bosom.
We watched the world go by, me reflective and him engrossed in his plate of meat patty. He was the part of me that enmeshed itself fully in life, so that I could relieve myself of that role.
My child. I had never had the experience of carrying him to term. Yet, as I stored him in an oversize bag to carry him onto the bus, cradling him close against my body, as he fell asleep on my lap on the couch and I woke up with his heartbeat against mine, I had this experience in reverse, the process of him becoming a part of my body. Had we ever been apart? He was a voice within me.
Gently, caringly, I might nurture him from a place outside me, from a fully formed being, into the core of me. I may cease to see him as separate, and see us as one entity.