“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” -Anatole France
Melancholy. That’s the feeling I’ve been trying to name.
I am not sad. I’m not unhappy, or disgruntled, or malcontent. I’m just, ever so occasionally, melancholy.
Several people who are further along in their parenting adventure told me that when your babe turns one year old, you begin to feel yourself again. As if the first anniversary is a magical switch that, once reached, will tilt the axis of your universe back to a more familiar (and less overwhelming) setting.
So as the fated date approched, I waited for a renewed sense of self. Some sort of assurance that I had gotten the hang of mum-hood while still retaining or regaining all the moving parts that made me the person I used to be.
And then September 2 came, and partied, and faded into September 3 and I felt no different than I had on the 1st of the month. Or on the 1st of August. Or July.
Don’t worry, I’m not sitting here all sad-sack thinking there’s something wrong with me. I believe that mothers, like babies, develop at their own pace. Just because other mothers have felt like life returned to some semblance of normality around the one year mark doesn’t mean that my sense of normal will behave the same way.
Maybe I feel this way, in part, because I waited awhile to have a child. My individual personhood (and couplehood with Bruce) was pretty well established for quite a few years. We had it down. And then, at 7am one Thursday morning, everything changed.
And in the change, I lost myself.
It’s true that I’ve gained more in motherhood than I have lost. So much more. There are moments of wonder and joy that surpass anything I have ever known, that more than make up for the lack of sleep and the absence of time.
But that doesn’t negate the fact that the me who used to be is gone.
Sometimes I struggle with that. Sometimes I don’t know who, exactly, I am anymore.
After all, the learning curve is steep when you’re becoming someone new. You spend a lot of time admitting that you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing. You stumble around. You try and you fail. You get overly nostalgic about the old routine, because this new one is incredibly uncomfortable.
So it’s only natural and fitting that on the difficult days and often in the dead of night, you mourn the you who is lost. Because you knew how to be that version of yourself. You had the playbook, more or less.
Now that playbook is undergoing a complete and total revision. And in order to embrace the new world order, you have to say goodbye to the old.
But sometimes letting go takes awhile.
So while I’m cocooned in this transition phase, while I’m releasing and embracing and fumbling around, I’ve decided to let the more creative parts of myself go into hibernation. It’s the only way to survive, really.
If I tried to be as prolific as I was pre-baby, to write even as much as I did when I was pregnant, I think my skull would implode.
It’s not that I’m not writing at all. I’m here, obviously. Just not as often as I used to be. Weekly posts have been culled to monthly posts. If I’m lucky.
I’m also keeping a journal for Lucette, trying to record all the little moments that slip too easily into the ether.
But I’m not writing for myself. The poetry is dormant for now. I miss it. I miss that feeling when the words start to click and flow and fit into place. I miss the satisfaction of a well-placed line break.
And I miss charting out new ideas for cinepoems. (In fact, I have a gorgeous one percolating that involves me, Lu, and a pair of tiny hats.)
I miss the more simple, selfish things, too. Like having entire Saturday afternoons to read a novel. Or weed the flower beds. Or obsessively re-organize my closet. Or do nothing at all.
Someday the energy, the creative spark, will return. Someday I’ll pull the poems out from their hiding places and build them a home of paper and ink. But not today.
Today I am going to change a poopy diaper. And find the missing white cow for the Little People farm. And read the story about the Busy Horses. And read it again. And again.
And somewhere between the highchair and the crib, I’m going to learn something new about who this mother-me really is.
I think it’s going to be great.
-Lo, who thinks that a world without the Cheeks in it would be a truly miserable place.