Originally posted July 31st 2008.
I first became a Mother ten years ago. I wasn’t a natural. I was scared and lonely and very sad. I felt guilty. The guilt was overwhelming and I slipped quietly into a dim place. I functioned there. After all, it was familiar to me. I had been there before. I mothered my beautiful child. I loved him fiercely and I took care of him, but none of it made me happy. Guilt. He grew and blossomed and it was a wonder to behold. How did the other mothers manage to sleep and eat and have sex? How did they go on to have other children? Surely the people who loved me must have seen what was happening. Nothing.
Perhaps this was motherhood and I was not designed for happiness. Guilt again.
To be thinking of such things, now, on the first anniversary of the birth of my second son, marks this day for me with clarity. Today’s joy, and it is the truest joy I have ever experienced, is appropriately bittersweet amidst the memories. This wasn’t my experience on the first birthday of my first son. He was cheated. I cheated him of a happy mother. I am here now and I’m amazed and grateful for that. I no longer feel the guilt for what could have been. I’ve moved past that.
The fear though, hasn’t completely gone. It lurks in the corners and at the edges. They are dark and threaten to creep back into my days. But they don’t. And I awake again each morning full of peace. There is a brightness I have never before seen. And it is so light that I cry when I attempt to describe it. I believe it to be happiness.
I thought I would write about fried chicken and tomato salad and sewing projects and baby presents on this day. And perhaps I will do so tomorrow, but for now, I share with you, my friends-without-faces, thoughts which are dominating my moments. And I feel joy.
Thank you for all of the support and well wishes regarding the sale of our beloved home. It’s reassuring to know that others have encountered similar dilemmas and come out on the other side all right. Writing about it and reading your comments I realized that despite the disappointment and sadness I feel, I’m also comforted by the fact that when faced with them, we can make the tough choices.
Somehow with all that’s going on, Niall and I managed to steal away on Monday. I spent a blissful afternoon with no children (does that make me a bad person?) in New York City. First I met up with a longtime friend whom I’ve never met. Weird, isn’t it? If you’d have told me two years ago that I’d be calling people I only correspond with via email and blogs a friend I’d have laughed at you. Andrea and I sat and talked as if we’d known each other forever. Delightful really. When was the last time you sat over tea with a girlfriend and just talked? I highly recommend it.
With two hours left to myself before my dinner plans I walked and walked until my feet hurt. (Living in the suburbs for as long as I have I may have forgotten a cardinal rule of my city-dwelling years: do not care what your feet look like—wear comfortable shoes.) Somehow my walking took me directly to Sullivan Street and I ended up at Purl. Hmmm. I felt a little like a criminal returning to the scene of the crime. How happy though to just browse and admire and touch for no particular reason. I got out relatively unscathed ($28 later). Despite the increasing pain in my feet at this point I walked even more and ended at a bar across the street from the High Line in the Meat Packing District where I settled in with a margarita and some guacamole (no onions, thank you) to wait for Niall and our friend Peter who was in town from California. I watched the sun go down over the Hudson and made small talk with the bartender. Not once did we discuss diapers or dishes. Perfect.
Afterwards we walked the length of High Line (spectacular. Add it to your itinerary if you’re coming to The City), ran into friends, and made our way to a small bistro near Niall’s old apartment. The night ended with cupcakes from Billy’s bakery and a rather large (but entirely worth it) babysitting bill.
All in all not a bad way to forget your troubles for a while.