This past weekend, while on a snowy retreat with friends in Vermont, the boychild got up on skis for the first time.
Not that I got to witness this special moment.
Yes. This is going to be a post full of bitterness and self-pity. You got a problem with that?
Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start. When you read you begin with “ABC,” when you moan you being with “Woe is me, woe is me….”.
Ok, so last weekend, hubby, boychild, B and I drove to Vermont to unite with two other nuclear families – dear friends from college – to create lasting memories that we’ll joyfully reflect upon years from now, tear droplets forming in our eyes for bygone days. There’s nothing like spending time with old friends who know your every dormant quirk. Like the fact that I used to change my outfits literally ten times a day in college. Which is probably because I, fresh off the boat from London and attending an uber preppy school in the Northeast, was attempting to find some kind of fit with an unspoken uniform consisting of a. turtlenecks with little whales on them, b. nice colored cords to match and c. tevas. None of which I owned.
My carefully curated outfits, influenced by Hip Hop and the New Wave (this was the late 80′s after all) were generally regarded with perplexed bemusement. Once, during freshman year, I showed up to a party dressed in black bicycle shorts, a black “bomber jacket,” white tank top and high tops. I thought I looked hip. The handsome, blonde frat boy who approached me asked me if I was going to basketball practice. Who the hell did I think I was anyway, dressing like Salt ‘n Pepa’s long lost cousin?
But I digress.
Back to the weekend. It was indeed lovely.
Filled with warm and fuzzy moments between old friends, replete with red wine, grass-fed lamb, saunas and falling in surprise love with Ricky Gervais. Interrupted only once by the requisite boychild tantrum, which I loved because it made me look like a more competent mother than ever before as I tried and failed at every diplomatic strategy in the book – stick, carrot, turnip, you name it.
But punctuated with lonely daytime stretches while every other person in the house was out skiing/having lunch/putting the final nail in my SAHM coffin.
You see, what I’m finally getting around to talking about is the solitude of mothering. The aloneness of it, at times. When you’ve got a young babe in your care, their needs become paramount. When you have that beautiful, helpless, cooing, smiling babe in your arms, a miraculous creature sprung from your very own loins, the mothering instinct kicks in and your needs become second. You are willing to forego group romps in the snow and jovial cups of hot chocolate with friends in the ski lodge, to take care of your precious babe. You can’t just stick your preciousssss in an unfamiliar daycare center in Vermont, wondering if the caregivers will ply her with Cherry Garcia on the sly. You can’t take her to lunch with everyone during her precioousssss nap time, because she’d be miserable and off-kilter for the rest of the day. Oy!
If I were a more relaxed mother, I probably would have said “Let’s go with it. She’ll be fiiiiiiiiine.” Many friends and mothers I love and respect would do the same. I envy them. I somehow just can’t bring myself to upset the babe’s routine. I wonder at myself. I am the least organized person I know, and I used to thrive on being spontaneous. The evil control-freak demons have obviously kicked in since becoming a mother, squeezing the life out of me and nudging me into solitary confinement.
So yes, I know…I know, it was my choice to stay at the house alone, watching B, sequestered like a leper, feeling sorry for myself. In a cruel twist, I found a book lying around by Paul Auster called “The Invention of Solitude” that I read during B’s nap time, hands turning the pages furiously as I staved off resentment and attempted to conjure the mama of my pipe-dreams: calm, happy-go-lucky and always reading literary fiction.
I thereby end this existential rant. Thank you for listening.