I remember writing. I remember sitting at a keyboard and letting words dribble from my mouth and foam up in my ribcage. I remember painting until I was so hungry I could collapse. But now I have baby arms around my neck and baby nails digging into my face and I have sweet, warm baby kisses sucking on my chin and I have this delicate, angel body draping over my lap while I write. I have soft baby breath on my skin and every night I sleep alone in a king size bed with a little baby next to me. I cuddle him and curl my arms around him and I watch him grow everyday. And it heals, and it heals, and it heals. To see a boy…so full of love and light. To hold a being that will one day be a man inside my little arms. To hold a little boy. To have him cry “Mama” a thousand times a day. It is everything. It is everything.
I am amazed at life. At transformation and at growth. I am amazed at how different I feel, and how much the same. I am amazed at the strange, straggling path my life is leading and all the unbidden turns my story is unfolding. I feel entirely right and finally in my skin being a mother…and at the same time I feel alienated and alone in my position and in my relation to others my age. I am amazed, now, looking back…at how I felt, who I was and how I acted for some strange few years. And at the time how I felt so clear. Looking back, I am so endlessly sad at how I was in Australia. It is remarkable to come out of a fog and to not understand how years went by without being able to clear it. And it is amazing to clear it. It is amazing, too, to imagine the expanse of time stretching before me – climbing this mountain of motherhood…imagining when it is that I will again be able to regain some sense of autonomy. It is amazing the sense of losing your identity and gaining it again. Motherhood has held that for me, in many ways. I dive down deep into this idea of what it is to be a mother…and then when I’m deep enough, something seems to drag me spluttering to the surface…and with a few desperate gasps of air I just start flailing about trying to make sense of the fact that I am 24 or 25 and rowing so far away from any shore all by myself. That I am all by myself out here. That I really did cut the cord and give up so much more than I ever knew I had. Sometimes I feel like I have thought through my life and what I want and what I am doing so many thousands and thousands of times and that everything fits…and then all of a sudden I suddenly look around and start wallowing in “What am I doing here?!” “How did I get here?” All semblance of things I wanted desperately just TWO years ago have vanished without a trace. So much is gone. So much can never come back. And yet there is so much to gain, so much to gather, so much to grow. So much amazement and so much to be grateful just in one finger of my baby boy.
Motherhood feels like some gauzy, dreamy ad in a magazine to me. Not all the time, but a lot of the time – that is absolutely for certain. A lot of the time I can tap into that absolute bliss of motherhood. And I can walk in that dream and savor the weight of this boy in my arms. And it is hard. And it is exhausting and consuming and so many things have had to go on the back burner. So many things. But so many things have been gained. Patience. Head space. Perspective. And sad but wonderful wisdom. Some glitter of youth and enchantment of naivety has faded with perspective, but has been replaced by that age old saying “This too shall pass.”
Marriage, however, does not feel the same. I find myself knee deep in this muck of endless, teetering, circular thoughts and I don’t know how to dig myself out of any of them…so perhaps I need to start articulating them. But it’s hard to know how to articulate…because it’s hard to know if it is marriage I have a problem with or if it is MY marriage I have a problem with. It’s easy to say that our wedding was one of the worst things we could have done for our marriage. I feel trapped. There I said it. And I wish there was a way for everything to exist at the same time. Motherhood, family, love, beauty, freedom, space, a sense of autonomy and identity. I think perhaps Kathryn Petersen has it right – a marriage, yet they consciously don’t live together. They each have their own space, and it is exciting and new to visit each other’s house. I don’t know what I want, but it isn’t this. And the problems are so deep and entrenched and complex that I have no idea how to dig myself out of them.
Life feels like an endless succession of beautiful days. Your soul sits on my shoulders and presses down. Yes, absolutely, it’s difficult to concentrate. People have filled my head with the idea that I should deserve more than what I’m getting. I vascillate between wanting to be grateful for what I have, and wanting to seize the magical life I feel lies before me somewhere on the horizon. I wonder what your part is in that. I keep being struck down by this strong hand of reality that keeps me rooted in the dirt. At the same time, I can hardly believe that that’s what reality really wants of me. It seems like a trick. Life has always pulled the curtains and doors open, just begging for me to reach for magic. And now that I am desperately trying to grasp magic, there feels to be a chill in the world all of the sudden which I have never known. A silent box closing in. Some strange little part of my mind feels like I’m being punished for something. Like if only I could just be grateful enough or present enough or not wish for more than I have. Like I’m being chastised for wanting more out of a relationship. For saying all my life that all I wanted was for someone to love me…and now that I have that…I am saying I want more. And that is shameful in some way. But it isn’t. The truth is…it isn’t. What he is giving me is not enough. And I don’t know whether it is empowering to ask for more, or greedy. I guess a lot of women would tell me it is empowering. I suppose it is only the abused part of myself that would assume that I am asking too much by asking for anything at all. Then comes that hard hand of reality closing all doors altogether saying – there is no way out from this choice you have made, this life you have built, this path you have walked yourself on to. But how was I supposed to know? People change. Having a baby changes people. Complexities develop. Power struggles grow. Suddenly I feel more alone sitting next to my husband than anywhere else in the world. How strange it is to walk up to an altar and feel a thousand things all at once.