my husband takes the lawnmower out of the shed and puts on rubber boots. the division of labor. he takes the big jobs. heavy machinery. oil changes. the long saturday trips to fun parks and public pools. the birthday parties and family gatherings. it’s the details for me. the daily therapy sessions spent pretending like having someone force your child to do things they do not want to do is fun. for everyone. look, mommy does it too. the endless loads of laundry and sinks full of dishes. the strategically planned trips to the one grocery store that he will go into, the one park that he goes to to walk in circles up and down the ramps, over and over. it is just the right size and texture of chocolate chip cookie. and holding tight and letting go and just the right level of shushing when the meltdowns happen. when the store is out of the cookies or the usual table is taken or the routine is off ever so slightly. it is interpreting grunts and coos and stamping feet that mean this or that is needed immediately. it is the million plus things that hold it all together.
my oldest friend stands in her kitchen with tears in her eyes and says to me, “it’s so hard just to be a mother. a mother of typically developing children. it’s already so hard. but what you do…i don’t know how you do it.” it is a kindness that punctures even my 2 glasses of rose haze. one that washes white light over the pink and brings everything back into focus, just for a moment. a rare moment in my life where i feel seen.
for the first year of my son’s life i kept a running timeline of where my life would be had i not had him. where i would be living, how my career would have evolved, where i might have traveled. after a certain point this other self dissolved. into the void. into the fog of nursing and soothsaying and becoming someone else. when i became her, the other me, i found the same things existed inside of me. the vanity, the selfishness, the ambition, the hunger, the moodiness and the effusiveness. the penchant for drinking wine out of glass jars and playing the 2nd sides of springsteen records over and over. quieter, but still there. what felt strange was trying to insert myself into my own life. and how the things that i loved to do, that once defined me, were so quickly thrown aside. most days there is simply no room for me. my priorities became exercise over art. food over friends. shopping over writing. alcohol over meditation. i want to be full when i am starving. i want to be up when i am down. i want to disappear i want to metamorphosize. it’s simple, really. what makes me feel alive? the pursuit of euphoria. ever so seductively just out of reach.
there is an entire generation of women living picture perfect lives on the internet. i scramble for a good angle. i tilt the camera toward the sun, hoping a rainbow might appear. i wade in to the water, just below my knees. i lift my skirt and look down at the welted thighs reflected in the water, see them shrink and expand with the shifts of water as they have with the shifts of my life. the lean months the heavy months. the 30 pounds, give or take, on or off, that have plagued my adult life. the same amount of weight that i gained with pregnancy. that number, just a number, the one that means margarita pitchers and chinese food on christmas. the one that means 2 hour workouts and freeze dried kale. the one i am always running from or running to. and somewhere in the middle is who i am. where i am. my weight. my heaviness or lightness.