I took a long break, I haven’t been here in a while, I know. But see, it’s because I’m finally free. I let myself be because I’m finally free.
Not that that’s necessarily liberating. It’s terrifying.
I’ve spent the past four and a half years trying to survive, while trying not to fail a young child. My life has been about failing at breastfeeding, formula feeding schedules, hauling organic produce from the market on three hours of sleep, mashing that organic produce better than the best baby food expert on the internet, potty training, chasing, feeding, chasing, feeding, crying, encouraging, teaching, all while demonstrating the patience of a superhuman. But that’s what moms of young kids do. For the first few years, most of us, as we knew ourselves, cease to exist. We temporarily lose our partners, we have no child-free friends. We long to go out to dinner, when we get there, we curse the moment we chose to do it instead of going to bed. We long to sit on a beach, sit, without moving until the sun heats us enough to go in the water. We long to slip on a pair of expensive heels, only to realize our feet no longer fit in them, let alone have the agility or energy to walk in them. We long to work, to create, to be surrounded by adults, because we think that what we’re doing, here at home, is not real life, it’s simply raising a child.
Well let me tell you something, it’s as real as life is going to get. And it won’t last that long, in the grand scheme of things. But we can’t see that while we’re there, no. And then, suddenly, it’s over. They hang their schoolbags on their shoulders, grab hold of their friend’s hand, and run off in the schoolyard with a simple wave. If that. And there, we realize, we’re free.
Or I did.
The first week, I stared out the window. The second week, out of guilt, I began to cook two to three meals a day. When most of the food found itself in the garbage, I embraced Netflix, read a book. And then it came, the bomb, the one that explodes little shards of “this is your life now” quotes all over the kitchen. Suddenly, at 44, I can do whatever I want. Till 4.30pm, that is. But compared to a year ago, that is a lot of time. And I start to think, what can I do, and I begin to panic, because there isn’t that much I can do, and the last thing I want to do is sit and cook three meals a day for the rest of my life, even if someone eats them.
Cliche, I say. Every mom has this crisis when they’re finally reintroduced to the concept of breathing. So maybe I’m just going to breathe for as long as I need to. Let this freedom engulf me, stress me, push me, scare me. See where it takes me.