I know I’ve been a bit of a downer lately, and really, it’s not because things are bad (at least not since I had that terrible IUD removed). Let me explain.
Motherhood has been a great opportunity for me to explore the vivid, exposed, most vulnerable parts of myself. I’m constantly oscillating between allowing myself to indulge in the intensity of emotion that’s part of becoming Lucy’s mother, and (mostly) the normal day-to-day stuff. The latter involves me scheduling our days with 1-2 outings, meal-planning, scheduling play time, cleaning the house, conducting business, giving bottles at 7, 11, 3, 7, and 11. All of these parts are important to me, necessary, to being present for this moment in my life. I want to feel the weight of my love for Lu, and let it change me, and I also want to be sane, happy, know what to expect in small ways, and be able to get shit done.
I try to write about both of these parts, but think the scary part is more interesting to explore. We all have our own ways of dealing with the unpredictability of new motherhood.
I don’t want to spiral into another depression that leaves me impotent, but I want to be HERE, where ever that is. I want to feel all the scary, messy stuff that I’ve historically tried to avoid. I want to learn how to surrender, because from pregnancy and birth on, I have a feeling I will really need to know how to do that. Fighting against fear instead of riding its current, gripping your fists tightly around a weightless, substanceless thing does not work for long. So, I am trying to allow myself to change.
All of that said, our little life is pretty great. The mornings are the best, because I’ve just had three coffees, and Lu is in a good mood and will play independently while I draw or read. We go to story time at the library now on Tuesdays, where I beam embarrassing smiles at the other moms in an attempt to make friends (but I actually just look like Alicia Silverstone in “The Crush”). We run our little errands. She plays on her activity mat, exersaucer, or scoots around on the handmade quilt a friend gave us and I build up stacks of blocks over and over again for her to knock down with a tiny, outstretched arm. 4-7 pm is the no-man’s-land of sheer terror, where Lucy is sick of every toy she owns and wants me to hoist her 17 pound body on my hip for hours while I try to cook dinner, which inevitably involves spattering hot grease and 10″ knives. (I count down the last hours of the day in 15 minute intervals, waiting for bath time, and then the last bottle, and then the ultimate peace: me on the couch alone with a caffeine free diet coke watching American Ninja Warrior, responsible for absolutely nothing for the one hour before I go to bed and read in silence and fall asleep.)
I know it sounds heavy, but all of it is beautiful and alive. A change like motherhood doesn’t come without its growing pains.
My very favorite things: all of her little sounds (and how she tries to sing when I sing), the first smile on her face when I stand over her crib in the morning, how determined she is to figure things out (how to move, how to get something into her mouth, how to get a toy from the table to the ground), how she opens her mouth wide when a bottle or spoonful of peach puree approaches, how excited she gets now when she sees another baby. Also: having help from my mother-in-law so I can spend three luxurious hours watching SVU reruns during the day while making bad celebrity fan art, all of the rare but insanely special moments I get to be alone, the times when my husband and I connect and laugh about stuff and appreciate each other. There are too many wonderful things to mention.
Mostly our days are pleasant and practical, with occasional moments of intense feeling and introspection. I am hanging the welcome sign out front and inviting in what life is like now: strange, familiar, easy, hard, scary, light, tender and rough. Let it all hang out.