I’m supposed to have posted weeks ago. It’s shameful, really. Why the delay? I’ve been trying to think of something to write about that isn’t about motherhood, or baby. And I keep coming up short.
My yoga teacher laughed when I talked to her about returning to class after the baby. You won’t have time the blond nymph like woman who doesn’t want kids said, not unkindly.
She was wrong.
It’s not that I don’t have time (or not just that), it’s that baby and mom-world have crowded out so much else in my life, that whatever space is left gets divvied up among dog, husband, house, writing, and precious- so precious still- sleep.
That’s right, I have a kid who doesn’t do his nights. Still. 14 months on.
It’s just logic that with a baby there isn’t time for lingering coffees, or copious spas, or ruminations about the environment or the state of the universe. There isn’t time to flip through a Vogue tomb, or watch the entire season of Girls or any of the Oscar nominated pictures, never mind the winners as and when. Not because life before baby was obliterated or that I have only mommy brain but because there are only 24 hours in a day and something called maximum capacity.
I used to roll my eyes at moms who only talked about mom stuff, who only seemed interested in mom stuff. Like lunch boxes and play groups and the cleanliness of day cares. There is more to life, I wanted to say (but didn’t because that would not have been tolerant, no?) And I do think there has to be limits, there has to be efforts to go beyond that maternal sphere (with one year grace, of course). Out of courtesy, out of public relations. And I do think there can be mommy over-kill (3000$ first year birthday parties anyone?) But at the end of the day, it’s a dilemma of logistics, call it- space and time continuum mumbo jumbo.
Which is to say, it’s not that I can’t talk about the news or fashion or feminism still; it’s not even that I don’t think about this stuff anymore, cause I do. I just no longer have time to commit to wallow for prolonged periods of time, to wade through those waters as long as I used to. That time has now been allocated to charging through jungle gym assault courses after my speeding bullet baby, or demonstrating that peas are food and not fun littly mushy squishy toys. Or looking up what to do when your baby has bit a hole in your boob.
Basically, motherhood doesn’t wipe out your former interests or identity (as I once thought) and turn you into a mommy drone, it just shoves them into a corner and suffocates them for a while.
Yet here’s the irony. With what little time I do have to myself, I choose to do other things than reflect, ruminate, muse, or ponder in downward dog. Like take a shower. Like buy groceries or pick up all the diapers that have somehow been emptied all over the floor. Or have dinner with my husband, or call a long distance friend. Or edit my novel. When time is truly utterly scarce, your priorities get stripped down and ordered clearly. Stat.
And here’s the other irony: I could get myself some full time child help and cleaning help and do like many of the women here do and go to the salon and pretty myself up, and work out every day, or even use those hours of freed up time when someone else is changing my kid’s diapers to read a novel. But I can’t. Because I need to be the mom I need to be. And it may not be right to only have motherhood on the brain, but it is one of the most worthwhile things to have on the brain. You can’t change the universe by ranting about it (not all the time, anyway). But you have a direct accountable impact on that kid you’re raising.
So please force me to talk about something else other than baby, because I can and I will and Lord knows I want and need to expand my conversational reach. But forgive me if I do go on a bit about how, right now, he thinks every animal, every good thing is called a doggy. A giraffe? Doggy! A sheep? Doggy! Daddy? DOGGY!!
The thing is, life may be messy and the inability to talk about other things may make me feel ambiguous about my current day to day existence; but upon some quick-during-his-naptime reflection, I’ve realized the view from here, the importance of where my attention needs to be is actually rather clear.
I am not the sum of my baby, but he’s an incredible factor in the equation of my life.