Of all the things I’ve ever done, this is the hardest (although trying to breastfeed deserves its own category). It’s also filled me with the deepest feeling of love and protectiveness. I’m hard on myself sometimes, as I think all parents are, but I’m also really proud. This connection I’m building with William is the first and only one like it, and that’s pretty remarkable. It’s also overwhelming, like it’s too enormous an idea to fully understand. I’ll probably spend the rest of my life trying to.
As he grows and comes to know me and Mike, I can feel the bonds of our family growing. I feel who we are as a family of three take root. We make plans now for summer trips to the lake and road trips to children’s museums and wonder who Will will become. We envision projects that center around him: maybe expanding the back yard, putting carpet downstairs so its a cozier play room, etc. It all feels very right, which also means it terrifies me that something could happen to him. I feel like that’s what happens any time we get really really happy about something. Suddenly that thing feels very fragile.
Maternity leave is a paradox of peaceful chaos. I find short chunks of time for myself, which usually means I’m sleeping or showering or sometimes just sitting in the quiet or talking to Mike. Today I had the energy to come on here and post for the first time in months. I fluctuate between being comfortable letting things go (the clutter, the laundry, the stuff that’s always there anyway) and clinging to structure in order to feel some predictability that puts me at ease. It is a constant ebb and flow, push and pull inside me and I think that’s part of where the exhaustion comes from.
I’m never really at rest anymore. I literally just felt a stabbing pang in my lower back writing this because Will cried on the monitor.
The concept of going back to work feels impossible. I’ve never felt more detached from my job, ever. Work now feels smaller and so much less pressing. I could do a whole blog post on how my relationship with my career has shifted especially between years five to now. For those of you who may not know, I’m a high school English teacher and this is my 10th year in the classroom. I have the luxury of paid time off and administration and colleagues who are keeping things running smoothly so I don’t have to think about work right now.
Above all else, I am so happy to finally be able to sit here and write this post.