My body is not my own. I wake at some dark, unforgivably early hour to a small, toothy mouth wanting only to suckle, while the associated hand searches for the other nipple to grasp as if it were a handle. When the first side is finished, the hand releases its grip, only to push and pull the second nipple into position for the greedy mouth. Back and forth, the hand and mouth exchange positions for what feels like hours before they are satisfied and either return to fitful slumber or signal a tiny brain into intensely cheerful wakefulness.
The child lays herself over my neck, pushing on my throat and threatening to choke me. That positions' comforts exhausted, she rolls off and throws her bulk over her dad, arching her back over his bear-like form and extending her legs into my shoulder. If she is awake, her bouncing is punctuated by "Da" and "cat;" if she's still groggy she simply whines and growls until she wakes more fully, or I lower her from my bed to whine and growl on the floor.
And that is how my day begins.
When I shower my daughter attaches herself to me, clinging to my legs and begging to be held until I acquiesce, and the hungry mouth again finds its target. Eventually I convince her to play as I finish my shower, then finish getting us ready to leave.
When I am at work, I belong to myself again. I forget the child who wants so much from me, I forget how ever present she is. I luxuriate in the alone time--often too much. The hours fly by far too fast as I try to fit in all the work I need and the play I crave. Then, 5:00 comes and I have to retrieve my child from the other women who, in so many ways, know her better than I do, and yet can never truly substitute for me, and give myself, again, completely and whole to her needs.