There is something terrifying about being a new Full Time Mom with an infant. I’m trying to peg it.
Is it the responsibility? Possibly. Behavioral ticks take on a new weight when you’re the one on the clock, round the clock, providing the care.
Is it the isolation? Perhaps. Though I suspect that feeling will diminish with each day (it already has) as [my daughter] Willow gathers more and more of her sensory reins.
But there’s something else, something I can’t name. The terror did not actually strike me immediately. Immediately I was too moon-eyed and sleep-deprived to know what was going on. But slowly, as each day folded back onto itself, as Willow and I both fumbled through our still-awkward dance of deciphering our respective rhythms, I realized that something has fled. Not a bad thing, but a thing nonetheless. And in its stead is where the terror resides. What is it?
Before Willow was born I knew, with confidence and delight, that I wouldn’t return to the office. And then the contractions came. And then the hospital. And then the first week at home with this tiny pulsing beautiful creature they call a human baby. And then my partner Colby went back to work. And here I was left, not going back to “work,” with this awesome thing, this baby, for long stretches of time in the center of a long stretch of countryside in the center of a long stretch of rural terrain in what feels like the very center of the universe. It is stark here. Only the desert’s austerity could compete. And I would think, “Geez, now what?”
The days have never been this still. My days were always a constant whir, a full schedule. That certainly still holds true in a way: the breastfeeding, the changing of diapers, the laundry, the long morning jogs, the laundry, my insistence on cooking everything from scratch, the diapers, did I mention the breastfeeding? But it is a different kind of busy than what I experienced when “gainfully employed.” What was that whirlwind? From this hushed post I see that former world as a blur, I see it the way a child lifted from the crowd onto a set of strong, broad shoulders sees, and I see that what’s fled is the blur. What’s fled is the World of Distraction.
And here, in its stead, I’m staring right into the eyes of the terror itself; the wild, four-legged animal of humanity that is asking me, “What now will you make of this?” Here we are with one car. One income. One baby girl. What perceived need there once was for fashionable clothes and take-out sushi and daily lattes is moot. What has emerged is the clarity of simplicity. And simplicity is terrifying, because it means that I not only have to stare at the wild animal of my true self for long periods of time, but I also have to become comfortable with it, one with it. Otherwise I might very well be doomed to a life harboring feelings of isolation and resent instead of clarity and gratitude. It is fostering the hand-built architecture of a sound mind, sans a consumer lifestyle, that has emerged unexpectedly in tandem with this whole homemaker/motherhood bit. And I don’t think that will be a bad thing to instill in a small child.
I’m turning the lights on Simplicity. It is not so terrifying. Willow is rousing from her afternoon nap. I think I’ll make a cup of tea and take her for a long stroll in the autumn air and see what palettes the landscape has to offer us today.