I am detached and lost.
How can that be? I also feel extremely happy and grounded, and yet, I continue to have this out of body sense, too, that I'm not all here.
Is it because of Hollis' developmental stage? My own peculiar form of malaise? What is it? Am I harming my sweet little baby by feeling this way? Us? Me? My life? Our life?
Lately so many amazing things have been happening and while they register with me, I still feel separate from all of it.
Anthony got a terrific raise and promotion. Hollis' language is motoring on in leaps and bounds. My marriage is more solid than ever. I'm more certain of myself as a parent than ever before. Perhaps it's because these things are safe and taken care of that my mind has turned inward; I have more mental real estate to play with, so to speak.
I don't know.
Some moments, just mere moments, I catch myself feeling bereft. They flicker past like a blink, a twinkle in the distance, and I'm left wondering what just happened to me.
I look back on old pictures of me with Hollis and I almost don't recognize that girl for I feel so utterly different today. I was consumed with my baby and trying to figure out all that went along with caring for a helpless human being. CONSUMED. Today, I am consumed mostly with my own longings and tribulations and it feels wholly wrong. I should be concentrating on Hollis and his needs, wants, and desires more. I don't know what it may look like to the outside world, but to me I feel like I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about myself.
For example, right now I've finished eating therefore I'm writing and he's propped up in front of the TV watching The Little Mermaid and eating leftover pizza. A year ago TV didn't exist in our house and I would have been feeding him directly or eating with him, or at least waiting for him to finish.
I think it's important to make a disclaimer here. I love to hate myself. I get that. It's my thing. It's why I'm 20 lbs over-weight, why I over-spend on occasion, and why I sometimes imbibe too much. If I didn't have those things in my life, then what on earth would I hate on?? Ten years of therapy aren't all for naught. I at least know the cross I bear in great detail. No one could ever accuse me of not having insight, it's just the wherewithal to change it permanently that's my Sisyphus.
Every day I pull myself out of my reverie to look into Hollis' bright, blue eyes and feel his presence. I take him everywhere with me, I breathe in his scent as if it were the most potent drug, I listen for all his cues of need. Perhaps no one could ever tell how I'm feeling on the inside, much as Cave Mother writes about here, but I feel at war with myself practically every moment of the day. It's exhausting.
A dear friend of mine from my childhood recently called me because my note about the balancing act we mothers strive to achieve "pained" her. She's a newish mom who has a 7 month old in an attachment parenting day care full time. Her attorney duties keep her away 40 hours a week, but she's within driving distance and she often volunteers as a helper so she still feels connected. She also has a "deal" with herself that she won't do anything that will take her away from her sweet little one more than two times a week in the evenings to do errands, etc. And it seemed to me while talking to her that she was really and truly happy. No, it wasn't easy and no, it wasn't perfect, but she's clearly hammered out some things I'm only just now facing.
What pained her to read about my struggle was that she feared I was being too hard on myself. "All jobs have crap associated with them and it doesn't mean you're a jerk for thinking that about your job as a stay-at-home-mom."
Wow. What a powerful thing to hear and from another momma and I've really, really been thinking about it ever since. I've said the words, "my job is being a mother," but I've never allowed myself to let the thought, "and this job has some crap features," to ever cohabit my thoughts. I've expected absolute perfection from myself, and only pure, sweet thoughts. Otherwise, somehow I felt that I was a lesser mother and when you say "lesser mother," it doesn't just mean you suck at a job, but you suck at being a mother. Something so enormously more important than any old job that it's nearly impossible for any of us to detangle the web motherhood weaves about us.
And isn't that what this is all about? I have let my own identity and self-worth become tied to motherhood, something I set out to avoid with all the ferocity I could muster. I am careful not to over identify with Hollis and his emotions: he is entitled to push me away, swing at me, be mad at me, whatever and it's no reflection on me as a person whatsoever. I've got that nailed, but when it comes to my own perceived presence of mind I am treading dangerous, landmine-filled ground. Obviously.
If I don't keep a perfect house (something which has nothing to do with mothering per se), then I am a bad person. If I am not 100% present with Hollis, or come up with good ideas for play, or tune him out I am also a bad person.
I've taken the negative space of the chair and beaten myself with it.
My friend was also concerned with my line of thoughts regarding what a "good mother" was. Did I think she was less of a mother because she was willing to go back to work and put her son in daycare when I so clearly feel I don't have that option because I want to be a "good mother"?
I was so keen to not over-identify with mothering itself and burden Hollis with a mother whose emotions were ensnared with his own that I have caught myself in a different kind of net. A net of utter mothering and wifing perfection which includes 100% round the clock attendance by me and no one else. No wonder I can't seem to bring myself to be "100%" available these days, I was giving more than I should have all along. Maybe 75% is still really fucking good, you know??
I know a lot of you have already gone through this and figured it all out. I appreciate everyone's thoughts and advice on this.
PS: I've been trying to get pregnant for over a year. I'm pretty certain this has something to do with all of this: I'm ready for the next level of parenthood and I've been unable to attain it. I am so effing ready to add to my family. Soon, hopefully, I'll look back on the last six months of boredom and frustration with a laugh at my simpering, brooding mood. Wish me luck.