We are having a welcome home party. It’s 6 p.m. The house is sparklingly clean and neat. Marc is in a new fluffy onesie and looks adorable. I, on the other hand, look a mess. A change of clothes would be a good idea. Too late, the doorbell just chimed. I open the door and greet the guests. All the guests surround me to admire my baby. There couldn’t be a prouder mother. I hold Marc in my arms and show him off.
“My beautiful Marc,” says my mother-in-law. “He’s so cute,” says Mary. Each one has a comment to make. “Look at his little hands.” “Look at his little feet.” “He is so small. He is opening his eyes. He is looking at us.” “Oh! He is smiling.” “We got him presents. Open them, Tante Sofie.”
We all move to the living room. I sit down and place Marc on my lap. I am happy to oblige. I love opening the beautifully wrapped packages.
“Let me hold Marc,” says Maggie and takes him from my lap and holds him in her arms. I look anxiously at Marc. He is fast asleep. I half-heartedly open the gifts and dutifully exclaim that they the very things I needed. Every five seconds I glance at Marc to check that he is OK.
“How about some refreshments?” says Sam. The kids opt for soda and the grownups for coffee. I turn around to pick Marc up.
“Don’t worry about him, I’ll look after him.”
Reluctantly, I stand up and walk toward the kitchen. I fight the urge to snatch Marc up and take him with me. He is safe with Maggie I reason with myself. Sam joins me in the kitchen and wants to help.
“Go back to our guests; I cam manage on my own,” I tell him irritably.
He stares at me for a moment then sighs and says, ‘the tray must be heavy for you; let me help.”
“No! Go back to the living room. Keep an eye on the baby.” He shakes his head and leaves. I am jittery and nervous. All I want to do is return to the living room to make sure that Marc is all right. I really don’t like to be away from him. I prepare the tray in a hurry and almost run out of the kitchen. I enter the living room and my heart stops. My husband’s nephew, who is ten years old, has placed Marc on his lap and is playing with him as if he is a fuzzy toy. Sam sees my horrified expression and quickly says, “don’t worry I am near him.”
“Help” I scream silently. My baby is in the arms of a ten-year-old. My knees turn to jelly and I feel faint. I deposit the tray on the nearest table for fear of dropping it. I rush toward Marc. No matter what Sam says I would feel more comfortable if I was the one holding Marc. Before I can reach him, Sue reaches forward and takes him in her arms. All the kids gather around her and want to touch him. Frozen, I watch them touch his cheeks, his hair, his tiny fingers, his tummy. They are entranced and fascinated by him. Who wouldn’t be? They take turns holding him! I can’t take it anymore. How can Sam stand there and smile complacently? Can he not see the danger?
I leap forward, snatch Marc and hold him tight. Relief washes over me. Now that I have him safe, my heartbeats return to normal. Everyone is looking at me in a most peculiar way.
“I need to change his diaper,” I say in a rush and leave the room. Once in Marc’s room, I sit in the rocking chair and simply look at him. He is wide awake and is quietly looking back at me. The feeling of utter panic subsides. I am still shaken but we are together and therefore safe. I just sit there rocking back and forth, my mind blank, savoring the peace and quiet.