I want her.
Right now, she’s downstairs with Jordan, and I just want to hold her to my chest.
I want everything to be the same. I want to have luxurious stretches of time alone with Jordan, and alone with myself. I want to perform improv. I want to be a young(ish) couple, unencumbered, out in the world.
And yet, I want everything to be different. I have a baby, for God’s sake. Shouldn’t the heavens open?
The early weeks were so much easier than this in-between, this straddling the old and the new, the familiar and the alien, as I inch towards re-inhabiting my life beyond Having a Baby.
We’ve arranged for daycare starting in August, when I return to work. Someone else will be spending more time with my baby daughter than I will.
I know a big part of being a good mother is letting go, but this is too much, too soon.
And yet, the alternative — me as full-time caregiver — is no good. First, I believe firmly that I need to feed the parts of myself other than “mother” (the artist in me, the part of me that engages with the world, not just with my daughter) in order to be the best mother to her possible. An isolated life of Me and Her would not yield the kind of relationship I want for us.
Second, I honestly don’t have the stamina for full-time childcare. Caring for her fills me up, sure, but it also drains me down, intensely. Life these days is a special brew of serenity and insanity that leaves me feeling dumb and spent. Sure, I could rally to the role of full-time caregiver, if I had to — but I don’t think it would result in a thriving version of Amanda. And I want to thrive, for both of our sakes.
And so, I’m readying myself for a major rebalancing, one that makes caring for my baby part of my life, rather than my entire life. And my heart is like taffy, pulled in opposing directions, sticky, stuck. Be with her more. Reclaim your life. Integrate her into your life. How do you do that? How do you integrate something so profound — how do you integrate a PERSON YOU MADE, WHO GREW INSIDE YOUR BODY?! This isn’t like making room for tap dancing lessons.
It feels like I’ve been on vacation and I’m just coming back to a dusty old house that’s been sitting dormant, and that house is Life As I Know It. My suitcases are in the hallway. There’s so much to unpack. I pick up objects sitting around the rooms and remember them like a faraway dream. I yearn for them and reject them at the same time.
All I know is that I want everything. I want more of her. More of Jordan. More art. More yoga. More space. More closeness. More professional life. More magical maternal moments. And sleep — I definitely want more sleep.
I want it all. The thing is, I’ve always wanted it all…always been greedy with my desires. But never before have I felt this sensation inside me, of physically being pulled in opposite directions. Boiled down, it’s simple: I want the impossible. I want to be with her all the time, and I want to be apart from her sometimes. Beep boop. Does not compute.
So I’ll unpack my suitcases. I’ll wipe down the furniture, lovingly, til it’s just like new, but with all the memories and history intact. I’ll throw the windows open wide and let in some fresh air, and then I’ll snuggle in the corner with my daughter, creating new memories, living a new life, together.
Photo by Flickr user Ernesto Huang