yesterday i was talking to one of my best girls.
she asked how i was and i equated the lostness i feel with that of when you either get dumped or lose someone you love. there's this hole that feels like it can only be filled by the exact person, who left the emptiness in the first place.
but they're no longer part of your life.
that's happened to everyone, right?
i feel like i've been there many, many times in my life. surely you've been there too.
nothing else can fill that space. you try to stuff it full of other people or sex or food or aggressive health or alcohol or whatever else might distract you from the hole. or maybe you just stare down into it, paralyzed by the loss, counting each inch of your sadness. but either way, it has a particular shape. its outline is that of someone else's body and you just can't fill it with anything but their silhouette.
so i said this. i said, the only person who can fill the hole is the one who made it.
and she said, did you break up with yourself?
which blew my tiny little brain to smithereens.
YES, i broke up with myself. and/ or: yes, a version of my self has died.
(i should choose one of these analogies to roll with instead of constantly coming back to them both, but what better opportunity to be even more verbose and convoluted at the same time??)
i miss some version of myself, who, funnily enough, i didn't even really like.
these are the things i can no longer be:
i can't be nonstop busy. i can't overcommit. i can't work too many hours, exercise nonstop, always have the house clean, check in with the 203157 people i love every single day, and make all the healthy food from scratch. i can't just get up and go. i can't swing by the mall on a whim or impulsively drive to red river gorge to hike and eat pizza. i can't act like i'm not sad or that i'd be fine, resilient, if, for some reason, nic and i were no longer together. i can't stick to a rigid schedule. i can't predict pretty much anything. i can't organize my way into theoretical sanity. i can't move enough to avoid myself.
i'm not saying all of those things are impossible forever. some of them were good, in moderation. some of them will exist again, somehow (read: pizza, hiking).
but for now, my life looks much different. my life looks slow and sticky. when i think i'm going somewhere, i have to crawl through so many breast feedings and blow out diapers to even get to the beginning. i am one-handed shoving food in my face, while the baby cries and then just leaving the pile of clothes i tried on only to realize they didn't fit/ i couldn't get my boob out easily enough. it is usually noon before i put on pants.
my pants are actually leggings.
this seven pound girl is my world.
so i'm mourning the 128 pound girl i used to be. (i am definitely no longer a 128 pound girl. and actually, that i forgive myself.)
not because i even really liked her. she was always rushing and lost in the rushing.but just because it's different and different has always scared me.
i've been lamenting it a lot. i've been feeling like a failure.
and then last night, i just stopped.
i was driving home from dinner at a friend's house. usually melby falls asleep in the car. she loves loud music and will normally conk out. but this time she wailed and wailed the whole way home. i had just fed and changed her.
my mind started to reel. i was sure something was wrong. i shouldn't have taken her out twice in one day. i was a bad mom for dragging her around. and worse, she was surely not going to sleep now, and i was already so tired. i'm so tired of being tired.
i brought her inside and said to myself, aloud, stop this shit.
what am i doing? where am i in such a hurry to go? why do i need to get to sleep so soon? who cares if the floors are dirty? what will happen if i'm tired?
will i remember?
when i look back at life, will i remember how immaculate my home was, how quickly i got through diaper changes in the night, how trim my belly was, how right i did everything? will i remember it because it was somehow, magically painless? because i forced myself to continue on as i always had been, only adding a small human into the equation?
will i remember how safe it was, because i made myself stay exactly the same even though nothing was the same?
what do i want to remember?
she wailed and wailed. she wailed as i pulled her out of that torture chamber of a car seat. that stiff, shrill, ear-splitting baby cry that convinces you something is deeply, terribly wrong. no human could generate that sound unless they were dying.
and instead of trying to force her into some immediate, deep slumber by shoving my tit in her mouth again, i just took her outside.
we sat in the adirondack chairs in the disintegrating mulch of our front yard on a weirdly warm october night. i let her cry. i sang her quiet songs my dad used to sing to me as a baby and felt my body slump back in the recline of the lazy chair. i looked at the stars. i thought, i never look at the stars. i did not worry about the time.
i pressed my cheek against her stupidly soft cheeks. i kissed her mouth and tiny turned up nose. she stopped crying. we wondered at each other for a while. her little neck craned back and stopped, too, to take in the world around her. maybe it was her first time seeing stars.
when we finally came inside, we got cozy in our pajamas. we nursed. we read stories. instead of looking at my phone, i read my love letters from friends. women, who told me again and again that i was powerful, nurturing, brave. a born mother.
i wondered what it would be like to feel that instead of just reading it.
i did feel it instead of just reading it.
i said, i am powerful.
i am nurturing.
i am brave.
i am a born mother.
my job, now, is to love this human. to pour love into her, so the world is filled with more discerning, secure, resilient, tolerant, and loving humans. that is my job.
and i know i can do it. if i just stop trying to rush through it.
i am not going to do it all. i am not going to bounce back. i am not going to stretch my way out of the very thing i asked for to impress other people or try to act like nothing has changed.
instead, i will sit and let my baby wail, while i present her with my most calm self and the wonder of the night sky. i will fail again and again, but i will work on continually coming back to exactly that.
she slept like a champ. quiet and deep.
i lost a person i once knew.
i lost her and i'm mourning that loss. because change is scary. it feels empty, because it's unknown, but also because it opens up so much space. before i knew what it was filled with and now it's echoing with possibility.
and that scares me.
i lost a person i once knew, but i will be damned if i'll spend the beginning years of my child's life, or even another moment, looking for her. i am a mother now.
it does not mean i'm not still a person, an individual, but that person is just hugely changed. she is asking me to access the brave and powerful woman i've buried under years of busy-ness and self-doubt.
because now someone other than me is crying.
and she needs to know i am here for her.
i am here for you. i am not perfect. i am not always together. i am not even wearing pants. but what we'll remember is our cheeks touching and how full of possibility the world was.
i still think this is hard. it's hard in every way.
but i am brave and powerful. i am a born mother.
so instead of continuing to lament that busy girl, who is gone, i will say,
hello sweet mother,
so nice to meet you.