(Hold your applause.)
First on my agenda was the bathroom closet, which is usually stuffed to the gills with expired eye drops and tiny bottles of hotel-issue shampoo. I took everything out, one shelf at a time, and sorted through the contents like I was staging a hoarders intervention.
I made two piles: Keep and Toss.
Half-empty container of epsom salts? Keep. Dried out deodorant that’s lost its lid? Toss. And so on and so on until I came upon something that wasn’t so easy to categorize as trash or treasure: an almost four-year-old pregnancy test with two little pink lines.
I paused, considered the piece of plastic I held in my hand.
What’s that, Mama? my little helper asked.
It’s called a pregnancy test. It’s what told Mama that you were going to be born.
Like all children my toddler loves being told the story of her birth so she was immediately intrigued. When I was in your belly? she delighted to ask.
My four year old, also in the room, pressed me for details: How does it know?
Well, I went on, our bodies all have something called hormones. When a woman is going to have a baby a special kind of hormone is made. The pregnancy test can tell if you have that special hormone.
This child is persistent. But how?
Mama peed on it. Chemicals in the plastic stick tested for the hormone in my pee.
For a child who regularly picks his nose and eats it, you’d think he’d be harder to shock. But the idea of me peeing on a stick and– God forbid– keeping it sent him over the gross-out edge.
Suddenly I was on Jackass strapped to an overflowing porta potty.
I was a contestant on Fear Factor, feasting on maggot-infested cheese.
I was a teenage boy, being a teenage boy.
My child’s expression gave me pause. Why have I held on to this pregnancy test for nearly four years?
I knew when I took that test, saw those two perfect lines, that most likely they’d be my last. I knew that our family would be complete with three children, that I was embarking onto my last pregnancy.
And while with my older children I savored each milestone– each gummy grin, each first steps and first words and first day of school– I deliberately pushed the pause button on my daughter’s experiences.
Keeping that pregnancy test was part of all that. It was a way for me to remember, a way for me to reflect, a tiny token of a moment I’d want to keep with me forever.
As mothers, life is a constant game of keep and toss. Which memories should be saved in boxes, packed away like treasures? The preschool art? The baby teeth? The scribbles of a child who is learning to write his name?
If I could keep it all, I know I would. But that plastic stick with the little pink lines? It’s a keeper. No question.
Even if my four year old thinks it’s gross.
Photo Credit: Goldberg/Flickr
Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.