Postcard from Vermont: Under Control

4 am. Eliza is grousing in the crib, two feet from my head. I get up, take one step, put the pacifier in her mouth and drop back to the pillow. Mama says it's too early.

5:42 am. I wake to insistent sucking sounds and Eliza's legs thumping the crib mattress over and over like a drum. I glance at the clock and rise to bring her to my bed.

6 am. My lips are gently pressed against Eliza's face, just above her closed eyes, and my hand cups one of her perfect feet. She probably needs a diaper change and she definitely needs a burp but I stay right where I am because I can.


6 :34 am. Zoe wanders away from the breakfast table where she's made a mess, cereal dripping from her upturned bowl, and I am helpless to stop her since I'm marooned on the couch with Eliza attached to me. My calls to her are in vain until I detach myself and run after her, hissing low under my breath. I clench and unclench my teeth, breathing deeply to control the all too familiar rush of frustration.

9:12 am. Zoe refuses to go potty, even though she insisted she HAD TO GO RIGHT NOW when we were in the car just a few minutes ago. She throws a fit and stomps her feet. I pretend to ignore the people watching us and imagine trying to forcibly hold her on the potty, knowing that's just ridiculous, wishing for her to OBEY just this once.

11:57 am. We are debating the possibilities for lunch, with Zoe lobbying heavily for lemonade and ice cream as a balanced meal. Every nutritious suggestion is met with resistance and whining. Since when did every meal include so much explanation and negotiation and OKAY FINE I ADMIT IT occasional bribery? Who's in charge here?


These past few weeks without CG here have often felt like a high wire act. Where each day I gamely put on a smile and wobble my way across a precarious expanse, praying that I don't fall. My sense of balance with two kids is uncertain at best and being without my co-parent for so much of this literally unsettling transition has been, at times, lonely and difficult.

Some days I wished for a big audience, one that would witness and applaud my derring-do. Other days I wished we had gone to a hotel for three weeks, to watch too much TV and eat convenience foods and take out, while CG set up the house in VA so that no one would see the mess of a mother I am at the moment. That I would fantasize, even for a moment, about leaving the comfort of our lakehouse and the support of my loving parents and friends is testament to my deep ambivalence about receiving attention and help when I am struggling.

I recognize this feeling, this wanting to be seen and yet NOT SEEN. It feels like the story of my life. How I adored dancing more than anything in the world and yet felt best dancing alone in a studio, often feeling too exposed and vulnerable when dancing on stage. How I fell in love with CG and wanted so badly to be seen and known in all my imperfection and yet was terrified when we moved in together that when he finally saw the whole me, he'd run for the hills. How much I've always wanted to control how much other people see of the real me.

(Is this the story of everyone's life? Or just mine?)


bat7mess said...

I don't know if it's the story of everyone's life, but it sure is the story of mine. From the high-wire balancing to the wanting/not wanting help. Everyday I just hope to scrape by, while trying to enjoy everything because THESE ARE THE BEST TIMES OF MY LIFE!

BTW- my word verification is jugge, which looks like both juggle and judge. Or maybe that's my skewed view.

Whimsy said...

Oh you're certainly not alone. It comes with the territory of motherhood, I think.

michelle said...

story of my life too! grad school has been my most recent learning center for realizing i can't just do everything on my own (that i need to ask for help, i remember talking about that for a whole counseling session 2 years ago!), and for realizing i really need both to be known and loved and social AND to have alone-time where i can just dance to my music and be completely unjudged.

it's nice to hear someone else put words to similar feelings/cravings. :)

Existential Waitress said...

Wow - this post really hit home. I've really struggled over the years with allowing others to see the real "me", at my most vulnerable. I've really made efforts over the last couple of years - and it feels good. I think that's why I wanted to start a blog. But is still doesn't come naturally, I'll say that much.

Existential Waitress said...

I'm new here, but I tagged you at existentialwaitress.blogspot.com/

Erin said...

I recognize that same feeling, that same story. You write so beautifully. Life with young children is HARD so much of the time. Relocating your home is HARD. Moving across the country is HARD. Living for a month without your companion, your teammate in parenting is HARD.

All those things together?


You are doing a fantastic job.

Michelle said...

I can't imagine doing what you are doing. I sometimes get frustrated during one night alone with one kid. I'm sure you are doing great. I feel tired most of the time and like I have no idea what I am doing. And then one thing goes right finally and all seems great - for a minute. I think that's motherhood. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

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