Where I Pretend I’m Real

IMG_0827On my way up to bed, I stop in the dogs’ room and tuck them in.  Lea winds her body into a tight ball, so I lean over and rub her ears and kiss her on the forehead.  She groans.  On the other bed, JoJo leans back and wags her tail, so I crawl in behind her and lay my head on her back until she settles.  Until I settle.  Then I pretend to sneak out, quietly locking the baby gate into place.

I do this every night.

Last night, I said to my husband, How do parents put their little babies and toddlers to bed and leave them alone in there, all night?


I’m working on a chapter that begins:  Sometimes I pretend I’m a real mother.

I’m in line at a Minnesota grocery store and the exhausted mother in front of me is wrestling with her overstuffed cart and her 3 young children and out of who-knows-where I say,  It’s okay, I understand, I have three at home.

I’m on a plane, flying home to visit my dying mother.  The young mom sitting next to me is traveling alone with a 2 yr old and a crying infant.  I tell her, Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.  When the 2 yr old needs to go potty, she hands me her baby and walks away.  I am overwhelmed with her trust.

I’m with my stepson at the social security office.  He’s 12, and he’s recently received his little blue card with his SS#, but his middle name is misspelled.  I hand the card to the stern woman behind the metal desk and explain what’s happened, that I’m his mother, and that we need to get this fixed.  I hand her his birth certificate with his correct name …. where I am, of course, not listed as the mother.  I wait, terrified that she will ask me for ID, for proof, that she will send us away, that she will announce to the crowded room that I do not exist.


1908035_10202134199492852_3671483466727642931_nMy birth father’s youngest brother (wow, what a long title) recently sent me a few photos I’ve never seen before.

There’s this one of baby-me in a white dress against white space.

I think of how I tuck my dogs in at night, how I stop, hesitate, before I leave them, and how I click the lock on the baby gate but leave my bedroom door open so I can hear them if they need me.

I look at the photo of this baby and it’s like she’s been plunked down on the rug.  I wonder who she’s looking at, or for, and who left her there.




15 thoughts on “Where I Pretend I’m Real

  1. Pamela

    This post has me a little teary. Can’t even think what to say, except –in a couple of ways– I know.

    1. Teri Post author

      When I worry that this memoir is taking waaaaay too long to finish, these are the chapters/scenes that remind me why. While totally necessary, I can only spend so much time in these places before coming up for air.

  2. donnaeve

    This was so blisteringly real. (is that a word – blisteringly?) I’ve done that same thing – said, “Oh, I understand b/c I….

    Also, the way you say goodnight to your dogs is so endearing. I only have the one (at the moment) and he’s only four lbs, but he’s just. like. a. baby. And by that I mean when I’m done watching tv, I scoop him up off the loveseat where’s he’s been sleeping against my hip, and cradle him – just like a baby. I don’t know how I figured out that he likes this way of going to bed. I carry him like that, all the way upstairs and usually, he goes back to sleep. When I get to the bedroom, I tilt him in my hands, place a kiss on his head, and put him on his doggie bed, cover him up, and he just stays there, still asleep. I’m always amazed how relaxed he is.

      1. independentclause

        Ha! One of my friends picks up my 12-lb dog and says, “You can hold him like a baby!” When I scoop up the dog to go to bed, I think of him as a very heavy teddy bear. 🙂

      2. donnaeve

        Even my husband gets a kick out of it. “Bundle’s” feet, (his real name is Mister) look like a little rabbit’s.

        Teddy bears – all of them, even the 100 lb ones.

      3. Teri Post author

        I can’t pick mine up — we’ve got 170 pounds of dog here — which is why I have to crawl into the dog beds with them.

  3. Angela Laforest

    I miss my babies being babies…I would wake them up just to rock them, hold them and kiss them.
    My two oldest boys are 26 and 24 and both disabled. Preston, my 24 year is non-verbal and has cerebral palsy. He came home from adult day care upset, and he couldn’t tell me why he was crying. So I rocked him in my rocking chair, although he is taller than me now. I rocked him until he had settled down.
    Our new American bulldog puppy was whimpering and crying one day, I didn’t know what had happened, so off to the rocker we went!
    I think MOM is my calling…lol

  4. amyg

    what’s a real mother any way? a mother is a mother is a mother.

    also, sometimes, i pretend i’m not a mother, sitting alone in a coffee shop, with make up on and my favorite t-shirt and sandals, but then, within seconds, i feel guilty and immediately go back to being mom…and usually end up spilling my coffee on the front of my shirt as if it’s the first time I’ve ever drank from a coffee mug.

  5. Downith

    A mother is a mother. Damn straight.

    Our pup has completely transferred all allegiance to The Hub. After all I did for her !

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