Saturday, January 10, 2009


For the first few years of my active mothering life, there was no me. I abhorred me. I wanted so desperately not to need me, not to be in touch with me. In the year that lay between Charlotte's death and Liam's birth, I had grown to fiercely resent my own free will, my ability to do as I wished, to act as I chose. The idea that I could go to a movie, or eat at a restaurant, or sleep whenever I chose seemed suffocating; all I wanted was for those things to be inaccessible by reason of a suckling infant.
It stands to reason, and I do not fault myself for this, that when Liam was born I cast myself away, pouring my whole self absolutely into the care of him, never looking back. The frantic nature of my mothering instinct went into full gear, mothering one baby with the energy for two, and I poured and poured and poured out of myself and never once thought about getting a refill. This went on for some time without my noticing.
When did I notice? I cannot recall, but what I do know is that there then came a period where I realized that I wanted to re-visit the old me, the person who used to pursue creative endeavors, who used to schedule coffee dates with friends and spend time exercising alone and hours reading on Saturday mornings (can you imagine the indulgence?). These very things that had made my skin crawl after Charlotte died, I was starting to want them back, and it made me cringe and writhe and want to swat the uncomfortable feeling away. So every time a (quite natural) thought arose, with my two year old and infant underfoot, I want some space, I want some me-time, I would mentally smack my hand, this is what you wanted, this is what you wanted. How dare you.
But I know better, now. Along the same lines as raising normal children who bicker, I have also come to accept that in some ways, I am a normal mother. I am a normal mother who cannot be just that, who cannot be that to exclusion. I enjoy who I am, and to be the true me provides a better person for my children to model themselves after. I have begun to carve time, to work with Greg to see that there is time somewhere in each week built in so that I can do something, anything, that will bring me pleasure, that is decided by me and me alone. It is absolute bliss, and it is also bliss to be freed from the chains of guilt.
And so, it is with great pleasure that at this phase in my life I am once again an avid knitter (working now on two highly patterned matching sweater vests for the cherubs), always involved in at least 3 sewing projects, I'm learning a new piece on the piano, I'm singing in a chorus, and I always, always have at least two good books going at once. I have been cooking with reckless abandon and have been getting more skilled at figuring out ways that the kids can help me-- whether it's really help or just keeping them busy with a butter knife and a chunk of cheese to chop into chunks-- so that I can truly love to cook, like I used to, instead of just thinking of it as something I have to squeeze into my life.
I'm also practicing talking to the kids about how I have certain responsibilities as the head of the household, and that I need some time to accomplish them if I'm going to be fully present to play with them. So instead of half-heartedly playing with them all day long, moaning on the inside about how much "stuff' I have to "get done", I will tell them that if I can have fifteen minutes to do the dishes (sweep the floor, put laundry away, etc.) then I will be available to play without distraction when I'm finished. I find this plan works much better.
This mothering thing really is a learned skill, isn't it, and our children are always changing and growing and so we do, too.


On a side note, it is possible, possible, that Aoife has finally weaned herself. It has been eight days. I would estimate that she's only been nursing maybe two times a week for the past 3 months, but she would always at some point remember and ask, and of course I am absolutely completely not going to say no, and it was always close enough to the last time that there would still be something there. But I don't know, I think maybe this might have done it.
If it is true, then this is the first time in six and a half years that I have not been pregnant or nursing. Aw.......


Cara said...

Congrats on the you time and you activites! I remember the first time I heard my husband utter the sentiment to someone else, "Cara need to get out of the house for just a little while. It helps her really BE here." It stopped me in my tracks and I could see that it was true!

Hope's Mama said...

I just want to be normal too. A normal mummy with a couple of normal kids. People keep saying my next baby will be a miracle but I don't want that on their shoulders, I just want a little ordinary baby. The next baby will be as much of a miracle as Hope. I'm rambling I know, but trust me if you are in my head it makes sense!

Shannon said...

Carol, when do you sleep?

Sara said...

I remember that feeling that all the things I could do (yoga, sleep until noon, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing) were a slap in the face, a reminder of what I couldn't do (hold my baby, have my baby). I am content for now to not have me time, though I know I will want it again.