Thursday, February 18, 2016
Maybe it's because I'm literally tethered to the baby seven hours each day while I nurse him, or maybe it's because I'm awake at weird hours, or maybe it's because hanging out with a one-month old baby is sort of tedious (they are terrible conversationalists, honestly), but since NS was born, I've been experiencing this burst of creative energy.
I keep thinking about tattoos I want, 'zines I could make, blog posts I want to write. I'm designing the floor plan of my forest getaway house (it includes a wall of books, an outdoor hot tub, and space for the three of us to chill on the deck). I'm thinking about writing, a lot. I'm thinking about how and where I want to make my money, where I want to live, the animals I want in my life, the people I value, the aesthetics that please me. And I'm thinking about how all of that reflection gets synthesized into making and doing, eventually. (Not now. Right now, I need another nap.)
This time in my life feels like a huge reset button. It is not a restful time or an easy process, and I'm resisting parts of it. Instead of feeling like a "mom," all natural and easy-breezy, I feel like this baby has crash-landed in our cabbage patch and I've been randomly selected to take care of him. I feel conflicted and confused by a lot of this new identity. Like, I want mom-friends, and I also feel like an asshole for seeking out people just because we happened to have birthed a child at roughly the same time. I want to adore this baby whole-heartedly, and I also find part of this time deeply boring and stressful. I want to be part of the crunchy-mom scene, but I have to use a breastfeeding pillow and my kid seems to hate being worn. I want to be free of things like despairing over my post-baby body, and yet, I look at myself and I think, "You fatty." I had a baby 24 days ago; my brain is not what it once was.
I think a huge part of becoming a parent and a mom is processing all the weird, hinky little details that have come up. For example: I have not yet mastered putting the baby into a stupid ring sling, even though it's literally a strip of fabric and there seems to be no real way to screw it up. And yet, here I am, screwing it up, listening to NS scream in my ear every time I try to jam his little feet into the carrier. I feel like a bad mom, that I can't intuit all these details about mommy-ness.
And I want to talk about it! I want to create art about it. But not just about motherhood. I want to make up more baby songs, but I also want to remember and reconfigure who I am as an adult outside of the baby-ness. Maybe I'm fooling myself by thinking it's possible to separate myself from this child right now, but there's a part of me that really wishes I could do that. And I think this creative energy, which is centered around stuff that I like and stuff I want to do, is part of that. It is daydreaming, it is fantasy, but it is necessary for my sanity.
A few weeks ago, when I was hormonal as eff and crying on the phone with my mom, she said, very kindly, "You have to put your own oxygen mask on first, you know." I've been struck by that—I have to take care of myself on the very basic levels (getting enough water, for instance. Breastfeeding leaves a bitch parched), but also on some of the higher levels, too. I need to read The New Yorker in bed, and I need to write, and I need to dream. And some of those dreams are family affairs, and some of them are just for me. They are my oxygen mask these days.