The past month has been a jumble of fragmented thoughts and intentions, made all the more woolly by chronically interrupted sleep. I try not to squint at people when they tell me – hohoho – to enjoy all the sleep I can now – hahaha – because I will be getting none of that when the baby arrives – heeheehee.
Bullcrap. I’m already sleep-deprived. I haven’t slept deeply before 4.00am in a month. Every night, I fall into this weird shallow sleep punctuated by bouts of punchbag-in-reverse from Boy Blob, and the constant niggling sensation that my bladder is crying for help. When I finally do rouse myself at some unearthly hour and zombie-amble over to powder my nose, I tumble into bed straight after for some serious zzz, only to be awakened by a cheerful toddler re-enacting the wake-up scene from Frozen not 3 hours later. Verbatim.
Yet the skittles of thoughts I’ve been meaning to string together in the one post – or several – remain. I am convinced there is a common thread, although I haven’t found the time to sew.
There’s the skittle about these two women I’ve met – one with seven children, and one with six. I know not where their strength comes from, if not from God. The former homeschools all of them, as her husband is with the ADF and they move every so often. He had been posted overseas recently for months at a stretch, so she held the fort solo. SOLO. Now they’re moving yet again, and are planning a house build at their new destination. The one with six children still manages to find time for the gym. And has her children in bed by 6pm every night (although the older ones get to go to bed by 7pm). Both of them have five boys.
And it’s hard not to look at these surprisingly sane, grounded women and not marvel at their competence. It’s hard not to think about them and find yourself conflicted in your deep admiration for their ways, while simultaneously bashing yourself over your own underwhelming energy levels. I know they do it because they first want to, and then because they have to. When you are a conscientious mother, you find the strength and the will to carry on.
And then there’s the other skittle about these other two women whom I’ve never met, but whose lives touch people close to me. And these two women have many children. And they are struggling. Mental illness can be so, so debilitating. It can snuff out maternal instinct in its black hollowness. So all-consuming a vacuum that there is little oxygen left for love of themselves, much less the children who suffer in their wake. Made all the worse by a crumbling married life, an obtuse community, and just plain lousy choices and willpower. They love their children still, but it ain’t healthy no more.
There’s the skittle about crunchy and silky parenting, and how everyone in parenting land can be prone to getting a leetle beet crazee when it comes to defending their art and science of Bringing Up Junior. And really, most of us are just trying to do the best parenting we can in the best way we know how. Even if we sometimes want to crash tackle someone else’s methods to prove it. Until I became a parent, I had no idea how easy it is to irrationally process every (perceived) criticism of my parenting method as a direct measure of my love for Arddun. I also think that’s why Mommy online forums can be such toxic places, and why I’m mostly leery of them.
(As it turns out, I’m also 80% Silky, with a sprinkling of granola. I think my stout stance on vaccination irrevocably left me out of the Crunchy loop. Oh well.)
And finally, there’s that skittle about Boy Blob and my Arddun, and how I cannot fathom how my life will change. I love Arddun truly, madly, deeply – which is why my heart squeezes at the knowledge that I will be breaking this all-consuming only-child bond in order to make a new one. I have only been an only-child. As such, I have only known the love of a mother of an only-child. Sure, I’ve observed other family units with multiple children and am convinced they love their children deeply. But I’ve only known the love of a mother of an only-child. And with Arddun, I love her as my one and only.
There is a guilt that threatens to eat away at me with every fleeting week that passes us by. Let’s make the most of our precious time together, just you and I, I try to tell myself – except my body is now cumbersome and I cannot walk too far. I shouldn’t behave like this is the end of something good, except it is. I have loved growing up with Arddun these 3 years and counting. I should behave more like this is the beginning of something better and richer, because it is. Except I don’t know how.
And yet I am convinced that my heart will expand twice as big to love twice as large and twice as deep and twice as hard. It is the only explanation that will comfort me, as much as it confounds me. The heart cannot be thought of as a fixed-sized receptacle or a finite bankroll of warm-fuzzies. Rather, I like to think it expands with the using. It gets bigger, the further you venture in. Kinda like a TARDIS.
Oh, the imperfect love of a relatively new mother. Still brimming with hope and doubt and everything else in between.