For years, and categorically for the first nine months, I awoke each morning and lay in my bed wracked with dread.
Because the children were so punishing.
Trips to parks, grocery stores, the pool, church were all fraught with the certainty of sturm and drang. Sometimes interchangeably.
I remember waiting in Philadelphia for my husband to return after a medical conference. We had to check out of the hotel so for several hours I walked in downtown Philadelphia with the children.
One would begin to wail and would do so for blocks, eventually losing interest. Then the other would commence. Their verbal displeasure was noted by all who passed us.
I found a square and planted us there. The wailing planted itself with us.
The only pictures I have of them as babies–before foster care, before I met them–survived a fire.
All that remains of before.