Wednesday, July 2, 2014
preparing for the return
I go back to work on Monday, and to say that will be an adjustment is putting it mildly. But, after all, life at any given moment is stasis or adaptation. I've already adapted to so much more than I thought I could, not leastly rather enjoying four a.m. That used to be the witching hour of my soul in every way, but now - while I of course prefer the decadent days when she sleeps in closer to five - there's something unexpectedly precious in being downstairs with Perdita, just the two of us, her devouring her bottle and then drifting back to sleep in my arms. The sky isn't light yet but the birds are tuning up, and I don't plot my projects or plan my day, I just watch her eyelashes on her cheeks. There is nothing in those moments but themselves and nothing else is needed.
(Sorry! That came perilously close to a "motherhood is uniquely transcendental" bit! Let us not forget that, however lovely it may be at four a.m. once she's fed and asleep again, when she actually starts waking up an hour before that my thoughts are far from printable.)
Of course I am regretting the four days I was on leave before she was born, which is pointless because a) I can't get them back and b) beating myself up for not sticking it out is to pretend that for my last couple weeks at work I wasn't a physical and emotional wreck.
Part of the beating myself up, I've realized, is because at some point I internalized that you can't be a good mother if you don't love being pregnant. I mean, it's all part of the whole maternal goddess package, right? And with the exception of a roughly six-week stretch around the end of the second trimester, I HATED being pregnant. I hated being nauseated twenty-four seven; hated the weight gain and the way my joints ached; hated the heartburn and the physical limitations; hated the searing pain in my ribs when she decided to kick the same spot as hard as she could for two months straight. I hated the hormones and the anxiety and not being able to take any medication during my two death colds. And because everyone in our society starts referring to you as "a mommy" the second they know that you have an embryo in there, I felt that by hating pregnancy I was hating motherhood.
Therefore, not only was I a physical and mental wreck throughout much of my pregnancy, but I was constantly disappointed with myself for being so, because I thought that meant I was a wreck as a mother. Turns out - shocker, I know! - that being pregnant and actually parenting a child who has emerged from the womb are two very different things. Whether or not I am a good mother is a question only time can answer, but I'm not a wreck about it. Of course I panic at least twice every day, and low-level guilt is on the boil non-stop (I mean, right now it's my last Wednesday home with her and I'm blogging while she's in her swing, I should be holding her, I should never have gotten her used to the swing in the first place, good mothers carry their baby around twelve hours a day [which essentially means you're not allowed to stop being pregnant, and you can imagine the unprintable statements I have reserved for that concept]). But it's all okay. I'll miss her terribly while I'm at work, but it's okay, and I'm pretty sure Berowne and I are doing all right.
And if we can time it so the current situation of one enormous poop a day, after which everything within ten feet of her has to be laundered, is someone else's responsibility, I can live with that.
The latest reading:
She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth, by Helen Castor. Well-written and enjoyable history.
A Room Full of Bones, by Elly Griffiths. Continues in her series about an archeologist who keeps getting sucked into murder investigations. This one has some surprising mystical elements, but I felt that they worked overall.
A Whale Hunt, by Robert Sullivan. In the late 1990's, the Makah tribe of the Northwest United States was given permission to revive its ancient tradition of hunting gray whales. Sullivan arrived to report on the hunt and ended up coming back for close to two years, which is how long it took for the hunt to eventually happen. This is a really good book.
Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, by Lawrence Wright. Yikes. Also some really good reporting, and just amazing. Cults are messed up. Powerful rich cults are even more so.
And now I must run; there is much to do before Monday.