There are three I’m raising. Three born from body and blood, and so far they’ve survived near misses and falls from trees and clumsy parenting. One leaving and two almost done, and it’s a giving of another kind of birth, really.

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Birthing babies was easy compared to birthing men.

Birthing babies was nine months of wonder and nausea and anticipation and heartburn and ten or so hours of horrible followed by the most beautiful gifts imaginable. Three times. Glory.

And then the years of raising, and it’s another kind of giving birth. It’s a longer labour and a different kind of pushing, but it’s a birthing, still.

I remember, carrying my last baby, my surprise baby, and thinking this is it. This is the last time I will do this baby-growing thing. And as much as I was sick and as hard as it was to move by the end and as much as I was looking forward to the relief of our separation, a part of me wished for it to last longer. To keep him safe, inside, just a few more weeks.

I’m a perfect mommy when my baby is still inside me.

But the long stretch of parenting – mistake-making, loving through anger and hurt, praying, laughing, sacrificing, teaching, crying, waiting, holding, healing, trusting, changing, blessing, forgiving – this is the long, long labour of motherhood, and it’s a birth-giving that never ends.

And as much as there is a looking-forward-to of freedom, of the relief of our separation, a part of me wishes it would last longer.

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