(from the old days)
nine months, give or take, to make a baby, the cluster of cells that explodes over and over until it forms a person, complete, whole, ready to slip out of the womb, into the world.
and then nine months, give or take, to make a mother, the cluster of cells that is already a person, complete, whole, but becomes something more, added onto, expanding as her body contracts.
then what? when she is the mother, knows the routines, the signals he gives to communicate what he needs, the home base?
just as he reached that moment, a little over seven months ago, when he needed to be out of that womb, his mother has reached the point where she needs a little bit of a separation herself, to be not just mama but to reclaim what she can of her old self, body and mind.
maybe it’s the spring and the whole world calling for adventures. maybe it’s knowing that my husband will soon be home from work for three warm, beautiful months, that he is itching to be just dad for a while, that i am itching to be all of me. maybe it’s just Time.
labor pains. he is a hungry boy, and though we feed him mango, beans, yogurt, banana, he still nurses and nurses, latched on, hand tickling my lips or tracing the freckles on my chest. he soaks through diapers in the night, half-waking to nurse at one am, and three, and five, and six. when the sun goes down, he only wants ‘amamamamama.’
i want to walk to provincetown at the end of the cape, or to the western edge of the state, or all the way down the appalachian trail. i want to get muddy and sweaty and lost. i want to skinnydip like you wouldn’t believe. i want to get drunk and write and write and write without keeping an ear out for a crying babe. i want to talk to people. not Moms and Dads, but people.
for seven months i have worked to be Good, and lately i’ve been there – eating mostly Good Healthy things, imbibing less alcohol, less coffee, walking our neat little 2.8 mile walk every day with dog and baby, doing the laundry, sweeping the house, watering the seedlings, cooking for my husband, or at least doing all of the dishes, tending the homefire through the baby’s infancy, through the winter. and i am so tired of being Good i could spit.
my husband finds calm in routine, in order, in occasional abstention. many people do. i feel hemmed in.
i need to run with wolves. i need to drink wine with lionesses. i need to bake outrageous pastries with divas. i need to swim with goddesses. where are my women?
every mother i meet can only talk about mothering. i try to draw them out into other things, but it always circles back, snaps back, their leashes restraining them. you are WOMEN, i want to say. you lived two or three decades of life before these children joined you – you MUST have more to talk about than them!
i’m trying to conceive of how many years i’ll be changing diapers and loosing my breasts more often for a babe than for my love. three little ones, or maybe two, we’ve said from the start. i find myself wanting to crowd them together – i want to be swelling with the next one now. i want them to pile up quickly, grow up fast (not too fast). i want them to distract one another, look out for one another. the more i spread myself between them, the more independence they’ll have to learn.
sense suggests timing the next to join the world a year from now exactly. we know of two weddings we’ll most likely attend that next summer, and i selfishly want to be pregnant sooner, to give birth sooner, so that i can shrink back down to size in time for family photos. i am alice, weighing vial in one hand and biscuit in the other, growing and shrinking and growing again. my husband says we could always wait, put off baby for the next year, but wait? waiting? another year?
i even have noticed, on the edges of my thoughts, the rebel idea of just keeping the one, just one little boy in our lives. financially, logistically, of course one would be ‘better.’ an only child? i scoffed at the idea. now it prods me with tiny pinprick nails, like those my son scrapes across my neck. i want babies babies babies. but i want me, too. i want my marriage. i want travel and work and play.
i love my son. love him fiercely. his eyelashes, his single freckle, his gummy smile, his trembling lip before the tears come, his babbling, his hobbit toes.
but i love myself, too.