Kurt takes the girls on Sunday and leaves me with the whole day to myself. I'm trying to reevaluate the way I see these "days off." I've even decided it's a mistake to view my sundays as a day off from my regular life.
Becoming a mommy is confusing. When you first have a baby your consciousness explodes and you realize all of these things about the world and the way people live. You come to terms with so much about yourself and your past and the way you've been loved, or not loved, in your lifetime. You also realize very quickly that being a parent is NOT what you expected it to be. It's scarier and harder and more torturous than you ever dreamed something could be. It's absolutely relentless, and you had plans to get back to your regular life when you were done being pregnant. The thing is, it's also more delightful, more worthwhile, more rich and enlightening and joyful than you ever dreamed it would be, too. All of those good things don't add up to it being easy, though. Perfect and totally worthwhile, but never easy.
I think that's why so many new mommies latch on to labels and are almost self-righteous about their parenting choices. They need to be good. They are not one of the bad mommies because, see? Their child is big and well fed and wears cloth and meets all of her milestones early. They are sure their babies are okay and happy because they are not going to do anything wrong as parents, ever. It's a reaction to the sudden insecurity you feel when you realize that you've made an enormous decision that you had NO way of preparing for and you're not really sure you're good enough and strong enough for.
It's also a lot of pressure to put on yourself. But we somehow feel that putting pressure on ourselves is just part of it. Just part of being a good mom.
By the time your baby is getting bigger and you're having subsequent children, I think that the "good mommies" kind of burn themselves out being perfect, and we start to realize our children are fine and happy because we love them and we feed them and we keep them safe, but mostly just because we love them, (oh and also because we've rid our homes of refined flour and genetically modified foods.) It starts to matter less whether they should be pronouncing their "L's" correctly by now or clapping their hands on cue. The biggest thing about getting older as a parent, though, is that you realize how much you don't know.
In the beginning, you don't want to admit that you don't know every(any)thing, so you focus on what you DO know. Research on breastfeeding and co-sleeping and baby wearing and diaper washing. Still your baby wants to eat all the time and won't sleep and your back is killing you from lugging her everywhere you go. Over time, I put my kids down and used the stroller because being free of back pain was also important. That doesn't suddenly make me a bad mom, that I don't feel like wearing Louise when I can stroll her. And she's no less bright or happy for it. Although, she did roll over late.
I've only been doing this for 4 years, and I've learned so much. The biggest thing I've learned is that I don't know every(any)thing about being a parent. My kids will keep growing and changing, and I'll keep chasing after a (totally organic cotton, washed in Rockin Green detergent) dream for them, but really I'll just be holding on to them, squeezing their little palms in mine while we figure things out together.
It's a lot of pressure, at it's nature, loving our kids. That's why I try so hard to take all the self-imposed kind off of me.
By way of keeping an emergency at bay, the kind where I crack and call Kurt at work, asking if he could come home early because the sun is shining and I just remembered what it felt like to be able to walk in the woods, to be alone. I just got a kick to my guts because there was a breeze and I could almost feel the way a warm afternoon used to feel, where I would disappear under the leaves and become made of moss. Where I would stick myself and drift above my body. And oh darling, could you please come home because I think it's an emergency and I'm not sure I can bear to go on like this another second. I'm not sure I can bear the idea of blotting a spilled cup of milk out of our stained carpet or wiping strawberry jelly from the sole of my foot. I'm not sure I can handle it the next time the still sunlit air is scattered by our baby's cry.
I'm not ungrateful. I love my children and I see them for the absolute diamonds they are. I care for them with an absolute blind abandon and a fiery passion. So also, when I am never alone and too much time goes by that way, I break.
Sundays have been worked into our lives as a Mommy Day. Kurt and the girls get up and get ready without me. I lay in bed, settling into the pocket of warmth my husband left behind, half dreaming of a decadent breakfast and other sexy things, Iggy's gold pants, Elliott Smith wanting to run away with me and be hopeless junky kids, Jenny's unbelievable... everything, until my girls stop in to squish me and crawl over me and pull me away from my dreaming to sweetly kiss me goodbye.
Now, usually, I would jump out of bed as soon as they were gone. Check my email. Make a mental list of chores and errands I could complete with all of my stolen free time. With my "day off." I would feel guilty after a determined amount of relaxing and, around 11 or noon, I would start getting things done.
But then, I asked myself what I dream about being able to do in those emergency moments where I realize I've been perfect and on call and in love with everybody but me for too long. What do I dream about having the freedom to do, when my nerves are frazzled from being a really good mom? I certainly don't dream about running the vacuum and going to the grocery store.
I dream about luxuriating in bed, reading novels naked under the electric blanket or spending hours in a book store. I fantasize about baking and making lonely slow recipes, about asian markets and bulk spices. I dream about wearing mascara and wandering the streets. About getting my hands and feet dirty. About bodies of water and empty dirt trails. I dream about being far away from everything, to be let down from duty, to have the opportunity to spend the day not thinking or worrying or keeping tabs on anything. I dream about the freedom to waste my time, if I want to, and to use it in selfish ways if I want to.
These sundays are not a removed chunk of time from the rest of my life. They are not a day off from my life. They are a part of my life, and maybe, if I live like I am free on one day of the week, I'll be able to feel a little bit of that freedom the rest of the time, too. Maybe I'll be able to bring more of that freedom to the lives of my kids, to our time together. So, here's to just another day in my life. I have no idea how I'll use it. I have nowhere to be and I'm responsible for nobody and that's not something I'm prepared to feel guilty about. So, watch out.