There comes a time in an infants short life where they come to realise that you are a separate being who exists beyond them. You can walk out of their reach, even out of sight, without them. And this must be terrifying. Will you come back? Who knows? Word cannot explain or reason with your baby. Experience is all they have. So cling to you they must, for who knows what lies beyond their reach.
Yes, that’s where we are and have been for a few weeks now. I can no longer place my contented baby in his bed for him to drift off to sleep. He remains vigilant. Where is she going? What is she doing?
He wants to be in my arms, and only my arms. My husband gets up in the night to soothe a crying baby, and the pained howl I hear says “YOU ARE NOT MY MUMMY!” and things go down hill from there.
Where once we had some sleep, even 4-5 hours in a row, now my vigilant baby wakes every sleep cycle throughout the night crying out for me. Where is my mother? So no, I have not had much sleep recently. And thanks, but no I’m not going to let him “cry it out”; no, I don’t think it is “good for him”. But alas, I am going to attempt to break the breast=sleep association; because feeding to sleep is not working for us anymore.
[For non-parents, breast milk is like some amazing happy, sleepy drug. Babies obviously love it, and it sends them contentedly to sleep. It’s the most reliable way to get your baby to sleep, but also a habit they need to break. I mean, you don’t see adults drinking any amazing happy, sleepy drugs to unwind… oh wait…]
So that’s my round about way of saying I am a sleep deprived sloth like creature who eats half a block of chocolate everyday (Lindt 78% has become my particular predilection), drinks as much coffee as I can get out of the house for (3 shot macchiato has become my thing), and goes through a box of loose leaf tea per week.
I also started, dear reader, another terrible habit. Online shopping.
In the dark hours of the morning, or when the sun has risen, or at lunchtime, afternoon, dusk – whenever. Whenever I am tired, which seems to be always. I go online, and I make accounts, so I can make wish-lists, and fill symbolic baskets, and head to imaginary check-outs. And I buy crap that I aspire to maybe one day need. Like maybe one day I will have cause to look fabulous and glamorous. Not to head to the GP for immunisations, or walk to get another coffee. Not for my mothers’ group or swimming lessons at the local pool. But some actual reason. Like being a mother is not enough.
Maybe the shame I feel is that of an addict with this guilt ridden stuff I am accumulating. My little boy will only be twenty something when the arctic ice will have melted in the summer time, when the change of climate reaches that steep turning point on the exponential curve. There might be nuclear holocaust. Deprivations and conflict and violence that is beyond what even exists today. He will know that I bought shampoo from Japan and shoes from Italy, and curled my hair and worried about if I looked too mummsy.
The pleasure of stuff comes from the imagining. Imagining myself as a different person. So that while I feel guilty of the waste and excess of plastic packaging and shoes that have no purpose in life, I also feel guilty that I also imagine a self that isn’t sitting on the couch in clothes with baby food stains on her top. I can’t make ‘mum’ sound like someone I want to be.
So I have a colour correcting under eye concealer, to hide those dark blue circles under my eyes. This will be for the time that I want to look awake, and young, and carefree.
I have a curling wand for my hair, for that time I will brush it and look groomed and like a functioning adult.
I have mules made of a pink suede that are completely impractical, for that time where I want to imagine my life isn’t about the practicalities.
And a rose gold shimmery skirt, for when I want to be living a different life.
All of these things seemed like wise and reasoned purchases at the time. Even for a person with a dwindling income and little occasion to socialise. None of it makes any sense.
It’s taken me two hours to get my baby to nap this afternoon, because I am trying my best not to feed him to sleep. I hate to see him cry, and wish that the easy solutions were the best ones. I could hold him and feed him, always. I could be his everything and fulfil his every need, always. Except when it’s impossible, dysfunctional or just not living.
Which I guess is like motherhood. I could BE mum, a mother, always. I could make it my everything. Except when it destroys me, exhausts me, overwhelms me.
So I imagine this woman who might be spontaneous, selfish. Who can just walk out the door, on her own, as she pleases. Her decisions and foibles mean nothing. No one needs to know. No one NEEDS her. She is free.
I don’t know what I am trying to say. I am tired. Something.