How are you?

How are you? Some days are a bowl of poison sumac fruit. It's a cool plant, and you've got to meet it, but you wish that you didn't...

E is for effort. E is for ecstatic. E is for effort. E is for exhausting.

Fall in love with your baby, the text says. It sounds like advice from the heavens, from a love story, from a fairy tale. Don't be surprised if you don't fall in love with your baby. I tell this to mothers-to-be, she tells me. She also says that she feels uneasy saying this. I'd like to relate more of what she said because I found it such a relief, so real, and so inspiring - in an uneasy, Grimm's fairytale kind of way - but, I won't because I respect her confidence.

And yet, I'd so like to tell you more. When my son was still an infant, I chatted on the cell phone with a friend. I bounced the stroller down our rutted dirt lane. "So, are you lovin' motherhood or what?" she asked.

"Well, I don't know. It's hard. Really hard," I replied.

She was silent. I guess it's like when you ask, "How are you?" And, someone tells you exactly how they feel, and it's not good. I guess it was a rhetorical question. Or, perhaps because I seem like an all natural kind of gal, that my experience of motherhood would be E for Ecstatic.

Sure, at times. Sure, I can tell you all about milestones and sweet little things. I need to do that. I also need you to know some days are E for Effort.

But, as I held the phone between my aching shoulder and jaw and gripped the stroller with my awkwardly stiff arms, I felt so very alone. Why wasn't I lovin' this? Uh oh.

I find that when mothers can be real with each other, they reveal all the times they're not lovin' it. Sometimes, it just a hint. "He's really active. It used to be tough, but I bring him to the playground. He really needs it."

If I could just roll out of my hut, walk down a wooded path, and flop on the hammock of another mother, or a grandmother… If I could pass my babe to a young woman, not yet a mother, but curious…