This past weekend, my 5-year-old daughter spent two nights with my parents. When she came home, I realized I am considerably more comfortable in myself when I don’t have the responsibilities that come with being a mom. I believe this has been said countless times before, and yet it still feels like a big no-no. So many people take such offense at this notion.
I don’t mean to threaten the sanctity of reproduction or pop the bliss bubble of parenting; however, there are two versions of me, and one of them is a lot more easygoing and fun to be around than the other. That is my truth. My truth. My truth.
This weekend I felt like I had gobs of time. Enough time to pee without rushing. Enough time to make coffee without multitasking between that and answering a barrage of questions. That is something that is truly a challenge for me, and maybe me in particular. My brain utterly rejects the concept of doing more than one thing at a time. It just quits on the job, and I combust.
I had time, and it was a luxury. I took a two-hour bath. I read a book in the bath; I put honey and oatmeal on my face in the bath. I drank the coffee I had the time to make without my brain combusting in the bath. I giggled to myself in the bath as it was so nice to just be.
I went out with friends to nice restaurants and had meaningful, deep conversations with my husband about things other than what the schedule is and who is dropping off Bell at which swimming/piano/theater lesson, birthday party, play date, school, thing. We even watched a movie. We biked to brunch, where we watched other people’s kids act cute. I cursed whenever it pleased me and whenever it made perfect sense. I let my mind wander into deep crevices and find its own way out on its own time.
I sometimes wonder what were we thinking when we decided to have a kid. To be honest, we weren’t thinking, as it was not “planned”; however, it was bound to happen. I knew I was married to an incredibly loving, supportive, sensitive man who was going to make the best father to the luckiest kid, and I was not going to get in the way of that. Our love was going to be amplified.
Also, biologically, something happened to me when I turned thirty. I felt I needed to get pregnant like other people feel the need to sing along with the theme song of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. It was an urge I could not ignore. I was the youngest in my family and never really babysat other kids, so I was kinda in the dark on pretty much everything. I thought breastfeeding was as simple as showing a kid your boob and never really thought about the fact that you had to be with your kid, like, all the time. I truly was not thinking with my head when this happened. I acted from my heart.
When people ask, as they do all the time, When are you planning to have another? I think of two things. Either they have more than one kid and just want us to be in that same boat, where it is even harder to paddle upstream, or maybe they have no kids and have no idea what that actually means.
It means you are toast for some countless years. Kids suck you dry. They truly do. I am not going to counterbalance that with all the amazing things they also add, as I am going to assume that side of the story has gotten enough airtime. It is relatively obvious that this sacrifice would not be made for anything short of soul enhancing. It enhances your soul so that there is even more for the little pests to suck out.
I am going to take a stand and say my stomach is tight with perpetual stress and most of the time I feel like I can’t catch my breath and I am a much bigger bitch on the inside and less fulfilled in a multitude of ways when I am in mom mode. And my breast now sags. Yes, singular.
When you love someone that much, fear creeps in. It tells me there are multitude of ways I could mess her up. Worse yet, a natural disaster could rip through our city and separate me from her. There is now this person that I care so down to the bone about, that my happiness is now directly dependent on hers. There are no guarantees here.
There is just a ragged pace that keeps going, and on days like these it feels as if I am losing terribly at this race. And I am not even a race person. I would never normally sign up for a race because, realistically, I move at a snail’s pace naturally and don’t care for competitive physical activity. I am a sloth.
So there you have it. Being a mom goes against my very nature. Keeping up with the day-to-days. The endless to-dos and e-vites to halfheartedly reply to and then have to place in iCal and then attend. The endless questions to answer and books to read and learning and attention and mindless games. The chores taking until 10 p.m. to finish. It goes against my true nature in a lot of ways – yet here I am, being stretched and challenged and some days spit out. It is OK.
Activating my kind narrative and processing the ups and downs so that I do not walk away from this with PTSD is my goal. Not getting swept up in the undercurrent of insanity in each week, but rather focusing moment to moment, is a gift if I can get there. Lowering my expectations as to what I can realistically accomplish – and what passes as “clean” – is huge. That all can work in my favor, as I am a lover of simplicity.
I would get divorced if I did not love my husband so much, as having my kid half-time sounds like the best of both worlds. Being myself half the time and being myself with her the other half honestly sounds so dreamy.
Bell, if you are reading this one day when you can read because we have read Green Eggs and Ham together like 6,452 times: It is OK. I totally love you. More than you can imagine. And I also love me. And that is OK. And ultimately that is exactly what I want for you. For you. For you.