Suddenly I’m someone that can’t go anywhere anymore. Winter time brings all its promised darkness and here I am elbows deep in shitty nappies, teething, sickness that won’t end, two babies that want the easiest and hardest thing to give: everything.
I wear a mask of nonchalance that doesn’t quite fit but contort my face & make it pretty enough for you to believe that I don’t mind being left behind, that I don’t miss the way we walked into a room together your hand on the small of my back me a little taller in these boots you so dapper with that slick back. You look like a dad now, bags under those eyes still so blue but sparkle less for everyone more for us. I used to catch your eyes across the crowded room and now it’s as you run out the door. “Come” you tell me. I smile I hate and love you all at once for trying. I’m not good with people no one would ever believe that the walls we worked so hard to build perpetuated my suffocation, I hardly believe it myself.
In a dimly lit restaurant I’m sitting at a table with many friends and aquaitances. Some are drunk some are high, the air is thick with cigarette smoke, banter, familiarity. The confrontation that I am an obstacle in the flow of conversation is abrupt. Speak of career struggles is being tossed about but seems to fall flat when I say that I’m a stay at home mother. Suddenly the room is full of ego – mine, theirs. I want to say “I’m smart, smarter than you. I work so hard every day, you wouldn’t believe it. I’m accomplished, I chose this life! I’ve been all over the world, I’m well read, I watch great films and have the best taste in music, I’m a writer too!”
They want to say “What the fuck do you do all day? Are you bored?”
The look of bemused disappointment on my friends face when I reiterate that I don’t want to go back to my career is cutting, I can see she somehow thinks less of me but I say nothing more, instead I nurse my wine and her words inform the white noise around me.
This is how detachment from my former life progresses. The naivety with which I romanticised sharing my children with friends dissipates slowly, a string of nights and days alone, parties missed, various excuses, a quiet slipstream.
I come home to a fussy baby and fall tiredly into an arm chair to breast feed in the middle of the night. I’m so fulfilled here enveloped with this needy little girl, more so than I ever was behind a desk. There’s no one around that wants to talk about that but it’s ok I tell myself. This time is brief and to be cherished I say, I’ll rebuild the pieces of my independence only to miss these lonely nights and a big part of me actually believes it.
I would have been so desolate in this without the mothers that have reached out with a knowing glance, a thoughtful text message, a timely knock at the door. I’ve never properly connected to women before but today I thank god for them.
I thank you for the friendships we’ve managed to quickly weave together between demanding little characters, half finished conversations, perfect calamity. I’m humbled by this community bound by a common thread of fatigue, delight, wine, experience.
I thank you for your experience.
Often I can barely look at my mother in the eye, the overwhelming gratitude I have for all that she has done for me combines with the guilt I have about the years of rebellion I punished her with to leave me squirming with humility. She has never rescued me from responsibility but had a faith in my capability that I was never able to conjure. Of course now I know that this is what mothers give each other. In the beginning I fumble for my phone at 3 am, sobbing & delirious from fatigue after two months of feeding a premature baby every two hours “Mum I can’t do it” I can hear her calm breathing, a palpable hesitation and then the words rip through me like fire “Bad luck Luana, you have to”. A cold truth so necessary in the loneliest season of my life.
Slowly the sun comes back and the babies start to uncurl from my grasp. A season shifts. I meet a friend at the beach that I have not seen since high school, after a 13 year absence she arrives armed with her golden wilding’s and lack of vanity that you cannot manufacture, a 6 pack of beer tucked under her arm. “Want one?” She dead pans. I laugh and laugh and laugh because that is all I ever wanted.