When Balthazar and I were still adjusting to our new life as husband and wife, he used my toothbrush. It was sitting there on the counter beside the sink we shared, in the bathroom we shared, just off of the bedroom we shared, so he thought nothing of scrubbing his molars with it. After all, he explained later, once my tantrum had subsided, my tongue was always in his mouth and I didn't worry about germs then.
"Is nothing sacred?" I screamed.
It wasn't the germs. It was the sharing.
Then we had babies. Beautiful babies. Who began by inhabiting my womb. Who claimed my breasts from Balthazar--who'd claimed them from me, years earlier. Beautiful babies who stole my heart, and made me want to give them everything.
And so I did.
That's what we do.
In the beginning, I gave up my sleep, that they be nourished and held. Later, I gave up my career, that they be loved and cared for all day long. I studied other, more qualified, mothers and I became them, adopting gentler tones, songs, games, a craft cupboard that I would have scoffed at in my previous life. I gave up my sex life: "Shh, they'll hear us." Then my evenings, to soccer, ballet, homework. My radio station to Miley Cyrus. My exercise regime, my time with friends, my time alone, my thinking time, to their ever more demanding schedules. Now, my closet and shoes, since Sunshine and I share a size.
I'm not complaining. I'm just explaining how it happened.
And then, after so many years of being exactly who they needed me to be, exactly who I wanted to be for them, to give them everything, it happened. I was leaning into the mirror, lifting and stretching my lips to brush my teeth with my toothbrush--the one thing that is entirely mine since I claimed it so ferociously--when, on that morning, I actually saw the woman looking back at me. And I hardly recognized her.
But, she was definitely me. The mother of my children. She had my toothbrush.
If I could only slow down, I thought, but I couldn't slow down. Because the mother of my children is very, very busy.
So, she and I hatched a plan. A blog. That I would write about her and the family she loves and lives for. The family she would sacrifice anything for, including me.
"No," she said, suddenly frightened. "The children...."
"It'll be okay," I told her. "I'll protect them. I love them, too." And I had her gather them up.
"In writing about what matters to us, we'll come to know each other again. It could work," I told her.
Then I took her by the hand.
And we all jumped.