Mothering so far is mostly in my body. There are the thoughts, yes, but those are simple and straightforward. I am happy. I adore him. This works for me. I am shocked in fact, by how uncomplicated my reaction is. I tested myself last night. You are never going to stop being responsible for this person. You have years and years ahead of you of caring for his needs. How does that make you feel? And my answer? Fine.
I don’t know why it’s fine for me, and where this lack of ambivalence comes from. I’m kind of amazed by it. Once again my notion of being a feminist setting me up for a whole other set of experiences. I thought I was supposed to feel confined and trapped by having a child. I assumed that that was part of the deal and The Issue I was going to wrestle with. I get that I’m only a month in and that there’s always time for the angst to come in, but it’s not here yet. Mostly my mind is as calm as it felt this one night on mushrooms when it went as still as a lake surface in the very very early morning. That night I had a clear visual for it; saw the water’s surface and the ripples vanish and it was a sweet little relief.
In week one, I was thinking a lot about the language around having kids; how it’s treated as the most normal, traditional, conservative next step. Boring, almost, a dead end, an end of romance, an end to excitement and adventure. I’m thinking here of the endless sitcom jokes, the routines of stand up comedians, the snide New Yorker cartoons, the dialogue in movies, the asides of single, city dwellers in bars. And then I thought of those shelves of self-help books; how to be happy, how to be fulfilled, how to meditate, and I imagined telling the world, “I have a way for you to feel happy, to heighten your senses, to bring joy and love to you that you had not previously imagined. It will calm your insecurities and ease your anxieties. It will make your fears about ambition and success seem silly. It will make you braver.” If this was a book, or a diet, or an exercise regimen, or a retreat, or a pilgrimage; people would take it, would seek it and save for it. But the it here is simply this: deciding to care for another person for the rest of your life. And the world scoffs.
The only thing I don’t like about my mental state is that it’s making it a whole lot harder to get here, to the screen and the keyboard. When I’ve gotten those pockets of time there’s always been something I wanted to do a whole lot more. Like shower. Or stretch. Or eat without a guppy fish attached to my boob. Or, best of the best, take a walk by myself. It’s my body right now. Those are the needs and wants and pleasures. I had no idea how physical parenting would be. (I can’t believe he just woke up. One second, he looks blissfully asleep on the lap/nursing pillow and the next he’s regarding me with that one whale eye of his, unfathomable and of another realm. Now he’s yawning. Now protesting. Now pooping. Now contemplating my armpit. His profile is the best.)
But yes, not an existential existence these days. Parenting is in my back muscles and in my arms; my spent boobs and my chest marked with tiny scratches because somehow cutting his nails is the impossible task for us. It’s in my butt after too many hours sitting, and it’s in the milk dripping from one engorged boob while he feasts on the other. And so, this entry gets ended not by content but by need. What the lines don’t show is that this entry took about two and a half hours. In between the paragraphs, there was a poop leakage that I somehow got his ear into. There was rug time when he wiggled and I stretched. There was a shower break during which he decided to start howling the second the water went on. There were a few burps and two spit ups. And of course, there was nursing, switching from one side to the other. So I end here because what I need most is to free myself from beneath this (now) sleeping babe and get my shoulders un-hunched and get my legs moving and pray for me that he doesn’t need to nurse again before I get some movement.