By evening, I am lost. Too much talking, too much touching, too much crying, too much whining, too much mama can you, mama will you, mama now please now.
And because I cannot run away, or hide, or say no thank no, I am not mama tonight, I do what I have to do to make it through. I numb. I put a layer of something, anything in between myself and the world. Just enough to make it feel less like drowning and more like treading water, exhausting but survivable.
I numb until it is over. Until all the little mouths have been fed, bodies washed, foreheads kisses, backs rubbed. Then I numb a bit more, so I can sleep (or at least try to.)
And still, no matter what happens in the night, come morning I am found.
I am found by their wide eyes and sideways smiles. Their full-bodied wriggling joyful welcomes as I claim them from their beds. Their warmth, their soft-headed babieness brings me home to myself. Lost and then found. Day after day.