Saturday, September 29, 2012

After a while I suppose I’ll get used to the idea of marriage and children. If only it doesn’t swallow up my desires to express myself in a smug, sensuous haze. -Sylvia Plath

The laundry is coming. The laundry is coming. 

That’s what is going through my head right now. It feels like every moment as a mother is leading to only one thing – laundry. Making lunch for the preschooler equals clothes covered in hummus and finger paint tonight. Breastfeeding. Spit up on everything. Great husband. More laundry.  You get how this goes. And here I would like to insert a bow to all single mothers. 

Even as I write, the laundry is coming. Time spent writing is time not spent folding. But the laundry must keep going and as the dryer whirls, the pile on our couch grows. Sometimes, we need a moratorium on new laundry just to catch up. 

I love the moments that lead to laundry. I hate the laundry deeply.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the paradox that is motherhood. How we love all of it and hate much of it at the same time. How we want to spend every moment with our children. Or sometimes, not.

One Friday recently, after a particularly tough week in mamaland, my husband and I went out. Out for the first time in I don’t know how long, without either one of our children. It was fun and a little sad, and as we were walking around Harvard Square, I told my wonderful partner that I was sure I’d never be emotionally ready for motherhood, that it was too much for me and that I had no idea what I’d gotten myself into. His reply? “It’s a little late. You probably should have had a snake.”

But a snake wouldn’t have given me this:

It was ironic that the week after that very tough one, Ben started a five-day-a-week preschool schedule. This doesn’t actually lessen the amount of time we’ll have together, but it changes it, chops it up differently, and requires that I now, with baby in tow, drop him off in the morning. So in a world of emotional transitions, we’ve scored ourselves another one.

And we went from difficult times together to difficulties letting go. 

The first drop off went great. The second started with him asking to be carried in and ended with me crying. I don’t think you are supposed to let them see you cry, but I couldn’t help it. I’m postpartum and when I said “I’m a lucky mom,” he said, “I’m lucky too.”  And then we clung to each other.  

And then, his teacher gave us this book to read

After this, we exchanged stickers and I took my Kissing Hand home, where I thought of him all day. This week I’ll start some work and soon enough baby W will have his own variety of childcare, bringing more emotional tumult for me along with more pumping of breast milk and late night typing. Ah, the fun is yet to come, isn't it?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

"The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, longbefore it happens." Rilke

I love the smell of my MAC lipstick. 

I couldn’t tell you what color it is because that little sticker on the bottom has worn off in the years since I purchased it. I couldn’t tell you if other MAC lipsticks smell the same. It’s the only lipstick I own and for the past three years, it’s been there for me in the moments that have called for a bit of color, as my mom would say. Those moments have been not that many, really.

I was putting this lipstick on the other day while driving my VW wagon with two carseats, a toddler, a newborn, and a first aid kit into the parking garage under the collection part of the mall in our town.Because my first trip to the mall with two boys called for a bit of color. And we’d be entering through Nordstrom’s. Color. 

That is when it struck me that I love the smell of it.

It strikes me that the smells of things remind me of times.

There was a time I wore this lipstick more often, probably almost daily.  

That was when I worked full time in the city. When my husband and I went to Red Sox games and stayed at B&Bs. When we ate lunch on outdoor patios and I wore suits and bought lipstick. It was a time before graduate school. Before we were married ten years. After we were married five years. After we bought our condo. After the start up he worked for was purchased by a bigger company. After we bought a new car with the sale of his options. Before I sunk that car in a lake.

The car that sunk. I can’t smell leather without thinking of the seats.

I wore the lipstick during the time before the birth of my first son.  

I sunk the car after I learned to breastfeed.


Before someone I love went to rehab. After someone I love went to rehab. After I went off the pill. Before I thoughtI was infertile. Or that my husband was. After I thought I should go to rehab. Before I set up auto deduction for our cable bill.  Before we bought a house. Before the bag embroidered with Morty Jr. That bag still smells like my first son’s first days. Before I began keeping things like pieces of ribbon and stray buttons organized for future use. In a tin labeled “ribbons and things.”

Before the tests. Before the birth of my second son.

Before. Before.

Before I terminated the pregnancy that was our daughter.  I don’t remember how that smelled. It was after they told us she likely wouldn’t make it to term and before my husband’s birthday. After my first son’s second birthday. After my thirty fifth birthday. It was cold in the room at the clinic.  It was raining outside.

She was my second child. Before she was born, she was dying. After knowing that, we couldn’t knowingly bring her into a life of suffering, no matter how short or long it would be. Before I knew I was pregnant, I suspected I was. I also suspected she was dying.

The smell of my MAC lipstick brought me back to that time. Before all of this. Before the boys. Before the girl.

And now, there is only forward. Thank you, for being there, before, and forward.