Tonight is the first night I’ll be spending at home without Ziya. The only other time that I left her was when i was going to London to present at a conference. i worked on my paper until 2am the night before and Zi was not at the forefront of my mind. I didn’t even miss her as much as i thought i would, but i was also mired in breastmilk storing dramas that sapped most of my emotional energy. in addition to being out of the country and preoccupied, i’m also not an overly needy mom. i love my baby when i’m with her, but i’m not pining for her when i’m at work. i also knew she was fine and wouldn’t really miss me, surrounded by that army of loving care-givers she has.
when i got back home though, all i wanted to do was squash her pudgy wriggly self in a mama bear hug. i might even have bypassed stone at the door on my way to her. as i was leaving for the airport, i had him bring her out so i could kiss her goodbye and then turned around to get in the car, almost forgetting to give him a goodbye kiss too.
i was a super-girlfriend on all fronts. i was busy, low-maintenance, fun and didn’t take stone too seriously. i had time to hang out and we did lots of it in those first years. then came job+thesis and i haven’t stopped since. i’m still busy and low-maintenance, but i’m exhausted all the time and less up for late, late night fun. sometimes i say to him that i used to have a boyfriend (meaning him) that would make me ‘live mixes’ and dj personally for me, and he’ll respond, ‘i won’t bring up what my girlfriend (meaning me) used to do’. i like to leave the discussion there.
the other day he suggested going away somewhere for the weekend. i was like, great! you mean you, me and Ziya go to the beach in Grand Rivere for two days? he was like, ummm, no, i mean Zi goes by your mom and you and me stay home. I looked at him blankly. You don’t want to leave your baby, he observed. i shook my head. i only spend time with her between fridays and sundays, and they are precious. we’ll spend time together when she goes to university, i suggested. he’s easy-going and didn’t really mind so we left that discussion there. you know in marriage how you have parts of the same discussion over long periods of time. kinda like that.
anyway, Zi is now by her grandmother who is overjoyed to be spending her first full night with her, and have her all to herself. we think she has no idea what she’s volunteered for and will be staggering to the door tomorrow, far from recovered from the every up 2-3 hours hell that Zi, all sleepy and cuddly, nonetheless puts us through.
tonight then, will be our first full night without the baby and i’m fascinated to see how it will turn out. we can’t get crazy and party because, naturally, we are currently in a state of emergency and living under a 9pm curfew. we will end up home, both trying to stay awake, imagining we are hearing her cry in the bedroom when she’s clearly left the building. parenthood. you can never go back.
each day of motherhood brings a lesson for me. some lessons are mundane. like today, i realised i knew the right amount my child needed to eat. sounds silly, but i realised i was feeling confident and at home as a mother. i wasn’t worrying about whether it was enough or if i knew what i was doing. i could read my baby and had turned out to be a good mom. i thought back to the day she was born. i had insisted on no one spending the night, it was just me, her and stone. my parents had quarreled that i needed help, that i didn’t know how to bathe or feed a baby. i had disagreed and, looking at her today, i was glad i believed in me.
other lessons are more philosophical. its easy to get caught up in being a mummy. easy to sacrifice the relationships to partners, work and yourself that used to be important and still are. i don’t want to be one of those mothers who wrap their whole lives and selves around their little one. i want to be one that knows what i need and my boundaries, even in the midst of this whole-hearted investment, this ultimate joy. i want to continue to build a life in which she doesn’t have to be involved, just as she needs to build relationships that don’t involve or revolve around me.
these lessons seem obvious. women, mothers, do this everyday. but for me, tonight is another practice step, as i continue to find my own, individual way.