One of the things I really love about being a mom is reading books to my kids. Partly because I get to re-read all my childhood favourites and partly because they enjoy it so much.
Leila (who’s three and a half), loves Robert Munsch books. Thomas’ Snowsuit, Millicent and the Wind, I Have to Go, Alligator Baby, Love You Forever (that one always makes me cry) and I love them, too. The stories are funny and the illustrations are amazing. I love looking at the detail in the pictures. A picture of Stephanie getting her hair pulled into a ponytail at the breakfast table is so much bigger than Stephanie’s Ponytail. There’s a baby yelling from his highchair, a bleary-eyed dad searching for coffee.
Isn’t that what life’s really like? If we look outside the main frame, we can see so much more.
My best friend battles depression and once she decided to try medication, she told her friends and co-workers. She told me that while none of her friends were surprised, all of her co-workers were. We can be different people in the same life, can’t we?
My life, this Sunday afternoon is children napping, muffled dryer thumping from the basement, dishwasher swishing, studying for exams, sipping tea. These peaceful moments wrap themselves around me. I tell myself every quiet Sunday afternoon that I must bring this peacefulness into the hectic weekdays. But Monday morning’s machinery grinds loudly and life spins too quickly for me to stay on top of the laundry or cleaning. It’s a good week if the toilets get scrubbed and my reading gets done and we have homemade meals most nights.
It feels serene sometimes, to be this mother. To bathe my children, tuck them into bed, to worry about things so trivial as laundry and booster shots. Sometimes I stop and think, Who am I? Am I anyone besides someone’s mother, someone’s wife?
The answer, quite bluntly, is that yes, I am. I’m still the person I have always been, each experience wrapped up inside itself, somewhere inside of me, stuck together to make me who I am. It’s easy to lose oneself in laundry, temper tantrums and teething. It’s easy to lose touch with friends, to let weeks and months go by without phone calls or anything more than a rushed email. It’s easy to lose perspective about the teething, about the screaming, it’s too easy to forget that these years pass heartbreakingly quickly (as I know from my mere three and a half years as a mother).
But this afternoon, while the house is still quiet and the dryer still turns, this afternoon I know that I am lucky enough to be blessed with friends who forgive, with a family that loves and children that just can’t get enough stories.
At the ripe old age of 22, after two failed romances and a handful of flings, I decided that I would never fall in love, never marry. Looking back, I see that I was lonely and scared and insecure. Shorty after this “realization” I met Steve. Obviously, my path was one very different from that I had decided for myself, and here I am 6 years later with a husband, two amazing daughters and more happiness than I ever imagined could come from this life.
When I go back and read what I had written then, I remember feeling the way I did and I remember that girl, she just seems so different than who I am now.
Feb 16, 2003 The World of Darkness Surrounds Me
I’m at home for the week. To relax and catch up on reading and go for a run and take a nap every day.
There’s always something that changes each time I come home. A new table, or some new towels. But there are the things that always remain the same.
My cat’s cries after she has eaten breakfast and wants to get up on my bed, but her hips are too old and arthritic for her to jump anymore, so I have to help her. The salt on the mudroom floor, that needs wiping up every evening. My younger brother’s music, always a little too loud for everyone else. The warm water in the bathtub – even though it’s not the same bathtub.
Whenever I come home, I always feel as though I need to be here. It helps me straighten out my mind. There are always little deamons haunting me, different and yet always the same. I gain perspective here, and the time to leave always comes too soon. I always want to stay one more night, one more afternoon. But it’s the people, it’s this house. It’s not this place.
I’ve stopped believing in love. The romance kind. I felt it once, it consumed me, and I’ve never felt it since. Not the same way. I’ve felt love that was strong and solid. Reasonable, logic. I was able to let go. No desperation, no deep heart ache.
I’ve met a boy, and I’ve let him touch me. But it’s not love, it’s not even that much like. He’s jelous, and tempered, and we bicker like we’ve know each other for much longer than a month. I’ve decided not to call him this week, because maybe he’s not that great for me. I’m doing this out of boredom, not out of true feelings. And though he tells me I’m beautiful and too good for him, how much he likes me and how he wants to touch me, maybe what I really need is to not get involved with a boy who’s too old to have the lack of direction that he does. Who has too much emotional baggage for me to try to deal with, and who’s a Capricorn – one of my worst matches.
But I am bored. And it’s something to do. Because sometimes I doubt that I will ever love again, like I used to. Because I’ve become too proud. Words get stuck in my throat when I’m talking to the best of friends, how can I possibly ever manage to explain myself to a stranger. Explain the last 21 years of my life to someone who wasn’t there, to someone who will only ever know my stories and my ghosts as fictional. How can you explain the heartache you’ve felt at funerals and graduations and in hospital rooms, beside someone dying? How can you explain the girl you were before and how you’ve changed?
How can you explain the way you felt about the first boy you wrote a poem for, or the long summer days you spent in a pool, or in a car smoking dope, or playing with dolls you pretended were Indian babies.
Maybe you have to accept losing yourself. That the person you’re going to love can never know all of you. And I just don’t know if I’m ready to accept that.
Sometimes it feels like all I want is to be free, and all I am is trapped
I’ve been writing in various corners of the web for almost ten years, but recently felt like I wanted a new home. I hope this is it.