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Good. Bad. An exploration of terms and their repercussions.

The Oddnivore and the Newcomer left 19 days ago for a 20-day vacation at Camp Nappa (as I’ve taken to calling it, smashing Nana and Poppa’s names together like some grandparential celebrity couple).

Without O. and N., I think of them, clarity always coming in that space between parenting and being a parent.

Why do we get the kids we do? Why do they get us?

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“You will be an amazing mother.”

Er . . . I’ve probably written that wrong.

“You will be an AMAAAAZING mother!!!”

I think that’s about right. I’ve certainly read the phrase enough times to recreate it, thanks to the social media birth announcement, on the posts of the many mothers I know. But it is not a phrase that I have had dangled in front of me. And I suppose that makes sense.

I have wanted to be a mother since . . . never. Growing up, I expressed not one single teeney tiny drop, iota, whatever, of interest in children or having children (though perhaps I made up for it in frighteningly weird fashion in high school, when I wanted—and got—a Cabbage Patch baby doll named Phoebe that I diapered and dressed and carried around the house. And now you think I’m insane. All right. Really, it was very minor. I protest too much.)

But apart from the aforementioned (aforeconfessed) Phoebe-phase-thing, I have never liked, or even cared for, children. I have babysat: once. With my older sister. For, like, 3 hours. For two girls practically old enough to take care of themselves. In rural Osage, Iowa, land of Nothing Ever Happens. And nothing happened. At the end of the evening, I accepted my 3 dollars, tried to squash the nervous knot that had somehow curled deeply into my gut, and followed my sister out the door to ride our bikes home.

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Why do we get the kids we do? Why do they get us?

What is in store for the children of a mother who never thought ahead to them?

The demented weirdness that says, yes, my children can go out of town for 20 days.

But they are fine. Every picture, smiles. Every Skype call, a barrage of we-have-done-this-and-this-and-thises. Smiles for Mom and Dad. And then, gone. Gone again. Off into the space we have allowed them.

Why do we get the kids we do? Why do they get us?

Perhaps my late-melting heart is some benefit—for the children who are unafraid to go; for the mother who may stay and realize how she needs them. It is an unanticipated but happy pain.

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Read more Bad Mother thoughts in Sketch One.

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