This week, your papa and I are writing about what life looks like right now – how we are spending our time – and what about that is working for us, and what isn’t, and what the heck do we do about it.
So let me start with how things are feeling for your mama.
Each day I feel I wake up and run, run, run, run, until it is time to collapse in bed. You wake most mornings around 5:20 (thank you) and I scoop you up from the pack n play where you’re yelping. You’ve taken to grabbing your stuffed horse by the leg, and holding onto him as we plod down the steps in the darkness. I turn on music, and click the twinkly lights in the back garden on, as well as a standing lamp by the bookcase; in the darkness, I settle into the corner of the sofa, and nurse you for about 45 minutes, until you wriggle off of me and toddle to your toy basket, meeping and babadada-ing your way methodically through the jingle bells, library books, maracas, and blocks mixed up in there. We then have breakfast, you in your little chair, hopefully eating some banana, warm muesli, and yogurt with cashew butter. We are good hipster parents in 2017, after all. I then change your diaper while you play with something and talk to yourself, and I check the clock to do the math of whether I have time to take you down the block for a coffee, or whether I should kill 15 minutes before your nap.Which is at 7:45. When many people are waking for the day.
This is, recently, the time I get to spend with you. Writing that brings tears to my eyes. For the first six months of your life, I spent at most four hours a day away from you. In August I took on a big new contract, and for me, nothing has been the same since then. Recently I go to work while you take your morning nap, and if I’m lucky I get home around 4:45pm to spend about two hours with you in the evening before you go to bed. But those two hours are fraught – they’re spent juggling cooking and feeding you and taking off your shoes and your coat and you’re hot and you’re grouchy and you’re running and you’re hungry and now you’re too hungry and you’re annoyed and you’re throwing food and you’re full and you’re hungry again and now you’re really done and you’re rubbing your eyes and now you’re overtired and you’re showering with daddy while I run to get your pajamas laid out, and your humidifier filled with chamomile oil and fresh water, and the light in the washer dryer closet on so I can see you while I put on your night diaper and get you ready for bed. So this isn’t, I would say, the most brilliant quality time of all.
Recently I feel like I don’t know you. Like I must be a bit of a stranger to you too. Like the time we do spend together largely consists of shoving my breast in your mouth. Like again, as you have so many times through pregnancy and this first year, you seem so separate from me.
That was the first thing that struck me when I saw the ultrasound of you at 20 weeks. My God, I thought, she is just a separate person, swimming inside my abdomen. You know, we’re regaled with stories, as women, of what pregnancy will be like, and we hear so many tales of women cooing over how their babies are just one with them, an extension of them. I never felt that way with you. I was always impressed by and acutely aware of your independence, and separateness, and wholeness as a person, apart from me.
Which bothered me less when we spent a lot of time together. It was something I was proud of; what an independent little creature you were.
But now it just makes me feel lonely. I wish I could ask you if you notice this; what you think of it; how you’re feeling about the rhythm of our days. I can’t wait for you to be able to talk to me. I have so many questions.
So what am I doing when I’m away from you? Working working working working. I am usually running to meetings. On Tuesdays I have five meetings in a row, from 9am until 4:30pm, with no breaks in between. That’s a way to make an entire day just disappear. On other days I am running to meetings for different projects I work on, while trying to work on documents and ideas on my computer between meetings, and also catching up on emails whenever I can. If I don’t, then I end up with a huge pile of them that I can’t get on top of unless I pull another night of staying up past midnight just slogging through them.
Sometimes I see friends. I try to see Auntie Amara at least once a week; we like to go for walks together, and we usually bring you and Cousin Maya when we do. I love your Auntie very much; she is a wonderful friend. I try to see Auntie Kate, as well – we are making lots of efforts to have a playdate with you and Cousin Connor every Friday, and take you to the Please Touch Museum together, or a little lunch at Chhaya for oatmeal and honey, or fried egg sandwiches; but you two nap at different times and we can’t figure out how to make your needs and our desires mesh more easily.
Sometimes your daddy and I go out to eat. When your Grandma and Grandpa come to visit, I see you even less than usual; this is in part so they can have quality time with you, and in part so that I can try to get more work done, so that less of it hangs over my head when they aren’t here. And sometimes, after we put you to bed, Grandma comes and sits inthe living room, in an armchair in the dark, holding down the fort while daddy and I walk to a nearby restaurant to have a sandwich and a beer together at a local pub. We usually spend the dinner talking about you,and our dreams of living in other parts of the world, and wondering what it will be like when your brother joins us, and speculating about your secret inner life, and marveling at how amazingly full and complete and complex you are, even at one year old.
I’m not happy with how things are right now. I miss you terribly during the day. And I miss your daddy, too. I have fantasies that we spend all day walking around, daydreaming and exploring, with the puppies along with us, all of us together, outside, in the sunshine, with nothing hovering over our heads. I don’t want you to inherit the hovering cloud of obligations that I’ve always felt floating above me, even as a child. I fear I have to eliminate my own cloud in order to make that happen; and I don’t know how to, my little sweet love. I wish I did.
There are many things I would like to be doing that I’m not doing. Sleeping. Reading. Writing. Wandering. Learning. Exploring. Traveling. Seeing friends. Getting Reiki. Cuddling. Resting. Healing. Laughing. I feel so far away from these things. I’m not sure how to get closer to them.
Your daddy says I need to follow my heart more. But I can’t hear what she’s saying. And so I follow what my head tells me is necessary, important, pressing, unavoidable, valuable. But I’m working on hearing my heart better, because I want to teach you how to do it, and I want to be happy.
I am happy when I am with you, and when I am with daddy, and the puppies. I am working very hard to find a way to still support our family financially, but be together more. I wonder if you miss me when I’m not around. I hope you don’t; I remember missing my mommy when I was at school, and it’s a feeling I hope you never have to suffer.
OK – well I”m sure daddy’s answer to this will be very matter of fact and clear and concise, whereas mine is rambling. This is how we are, as you’ll come to learn. I don’t think I have conclusions around how to change things for the better; I’m still trying to figure that out, and it’s something that is filling my mind right now, which is why I wanted to share with you a snapshot of this confusing but really important moment.
I love you so much.