You will never have a moment to yourself again.
I hear this a lot, from every parent. Even the ones I consider rational and chill, the ones who don’t peddle in the “your life is over” cliches that some parents throw around when they’ve given up trying to say anything meaningful. And if the rational and chill parents say it then it must be true.
But you don’t mean it literally… do you?
Here’s the thing – I really, really like moments to myself. They are some of my favourite moments of all. And the thought of never having another one makes me break out in hives.
Maybe this is sanity-preserving denial talking here, but I can’t actually imagine it to be entirely true.
Realities I believe:
1. Parenting is a very demanding job, especially while your kid is young and entirely dependent on you in order to stay alive. You need to be constantly alert to their needs – needs that are many and varied and confusing and occur at inconvenient time intervals.
2. Kids sleep. More than adults.
3. The kid in question also has a father with two capable hands, even if he does lack boobs.
Despite the total overwhelming-ness of truth 1, I would like to believe truths 2 and 3 still add up to some moments to myself. Moments when I can brush my teeth and my hair, when I can linger in the shower for an extra few minutes, when I can stick my face in my dogs adorable fur, when I can soak in some sun at the dog park. Moments when I can indulge in checking twitter and reading the next “22 things that will make you feel like you are understood” list.
But maybe this isn’t what you mean. Maybe you still have physical segments of time that are yours, albeit much smaller ones, but the true cost is a mental one. That even those moments you are brushing your hair you are thinking about your kid. What she might need and when.
This I can begin to understand.
In our household I tend to be the manager. Not the boss mind you, but the manager. The one who keeps track of shit. I try to explain how exhausting it is to John but it’s a difficult thing to communicate; it’s not a chore one can check off a list. It’s not a physical activity that occupies a specified time period. Perhaps this is what parents are trying to express when they say they have no moments to themselves; kids infiltrate your mind even more than your physical space and time. And at that point, the best babysitter or the furthest vacation will not allow you a true moment to yourself.
This might almost be more terrifying, but at least it’s a territory I somewhat grasp. Mental obsessing is well-beaten ground for me.
So parents – be honest. What do you really mean when you say you have no time to yourself?
I’m not sure how to talk about pregnancy. I’ve basically hit the same wall as I did with being engaged in talking about the wedding. You’re preparing for this big thing, and it kind of takes over your whole brain, but you don’t want to let the world in on that. Oh this being that is kicking around between my organs? I almost forgot it’s there! So you suppress your urge to talk about it and instead it spills out in moments of weakness, like when you’re in bed, telling your husband as he’s trying to go to sleep that Google says the fetus might be licking the inside of your uterus right now.
I don’t know how to talk about being pregnant, not only because I’m afraid of being boring and self-involved, but because I’m highly aware of how charged of a topic it is. For those who are, for those who wish to be, for those who don’t but still wonder. And yet I want women to be talking to each other about this stuff honestly – hopefully bonding over common ground while respecting our unique perspectives.
So here are some of my honest experiences of pregnancy from around the midway mark.
– – –
I’ve always had this fear that once I was pregnant I was going to realize that it was all a horrible mistake and now I’m trapped with no way out. I used to have dreams of it. And I won’t lie, those thoughts did occur to me early on. But they were fleeting and I could recognize them as dripping with the anxiety I spray on every life change as soon as I spot it. I’ve learned over time to not give thoughts like that too much power.
Instead, I’ve been surprised to start feeling things for this creature. Like nurturing, caring types of feelings! It probably makes me sound like a cold-hearted soulless human being to admit that this has taken me by surprise, but I did say I’d be honest. I don’t let myself feel very easily. I let every possible “what-if” stand in the way of my feelings for as long as I possibly can. But apparently hormones are a potent form of mind control that can overpower my pathetic defenses (for good and bad).
Like apparently I now cry if I can’t find an ingredient in the fridge. Also if I feel mildly too hot, the TV remote is out of my reach, or someone stood in my way when I was getting onto the train. Yeah, I cry a lot now. I also like pickles and asked my husband to bring me ice cream in bed last night. I am a fucking living, breathing stereotype.
I’m still scared of the changes happening to my body. So far they have been minimal and gradual, but inevitably my body is morphing into a vessel. I’m scared of seeing my body take on an utterly unfamiliar shape. But even more so, I’m afraid of the permanent changes it might bring with it. Apparently women aren’t supposed to worry about these things because “the miracle of life” and whatnot. But just because making a baby is a worthy thing to do doesn’t make my body irrelevant. We are capable of more complex thoughts than that. I can love my kid and mourn over the physical sacrifices necessary to bring them into the world.
Bring her into the world.
I’m still working on saying her. Not all my defense mechanisms have collapsed yet.
Midwife Clinic Questionnaire
How did you feel when you found out you were pregnant?
I collapsed on the floor and ugly cried. Full on shoulder-shaking sobs that I’m pretty sure were going to burst out of me no matter what answer that tiny strip held.
I put off taking the test for as long as I could because I wasn’t ready for either answer. In those days of waiting, my mind performed feats worthy of quantum theory, managing to exist in two perfectly equal and opposing states at the same time. Happiness and fear. Wanting and dreading. Relief and worry. Knowledge and denial.
It is still doing that. Perhaps it’s a prelude to parenthood?
Was this pregnancy planned?
We’ve been talking about the kid question for a long time. I’ve personally struggled with the decision practically my whole life. Parenthood has never called to me, despite everyone telling me it eventually would. I still find puppies more appealing than babies, though I assume some sort of exception will apply to our own kid. So without that internal biological clock pushing me, it came down to a logical decision. And as much as the thought of having a child scared the crap out of us, ultimately we couldn’t quite picture our lives without one either.
How have you felt so far with this pregnancy?
Like I was run over by a hormone truck that then backed up over me again a few more times.
It’s been a strange ride so far and I have a feeling it’ll only get stranger, but I am gradually learning to trust my body, mostly because I have no other choice. Like the arrogant human that I am, I have, until now, completely taken for granted the amazing miracles my body performs every moment of every day I’m alive: things like cleaning my blood and delivering oxygen and finely tuning my hormones practically to the molecule. Making new cells to do those things is hardly more miraculous, but any semblance of control or predictability I once held is now gone. My body is rearranging itself to do something totally new and I have no choice but to go along for the ride. It’s a little disconcerting to say the least. Also, the back acne is gross.
Are you going to start writing in your blog again, or can I finally delete it from my reader?*
Maybe. No. I DON’T KNOW.
Seriously guys, I can’t decide what to do with this space. I’m increasingly uncomfortable writing in a public space but am not quite ready to officially call it quits. I’m proud of what I’ve written here and I love that there are a handful of you who read it. I’d like to keep going in some form.
Maybe the answer is a password protected blog. Maybe it’s stripping the blog of more identifiable details (like my face). Or maybe I just need to leave the writing to those who are actually dedicated enough to do it regularly.
I’ll let you know when I know. In the meantime, I understand if grey&shiny gets the boot in your spring cleaning. I do love a good uncluttering.
*This wasn’t actually on the midwife clinic questionnaire (I would have been a little panicked if it had been) but I thought I should attempt to answer it anyway.