[My third child recently turned one (wow!), and I also recently rediscovered this piece I had written very close to her arrival: A musing on what the arrival of this new little life will really mean, in all it’s glory and all it’s struggle…]
“I Was Not Sleepwalking Anymore…”//19Feb2016
“The new life of my third child, was a kind of turning for me… I knew better now than
I had ever known what pregnancy, another new infant, meant for my body and spirit…
by the time I was pregnant with him, I was not sleepwalking any more”.
Anger & Tenderness in The Fruits of Labour, p34,
I am struck by this line. I turn it over and over, like a boiled sweet lingering in my mouth. I chew at it as it releases more of its taste to me.
As I sit, children playing downstairs with open-armed grandparents, I am aware of the imminent arrival of my third. I had pondered and grappled and battled my way through the pros and cons of having number three. Yet the niggle would not go away. As my eldest two sat next to each other in the bubble-filled bath, in my mind there was always a space next to them. A space to be filled by another olive-skinned, wild-haired, heart-melting little life. Oh the joy of being able to choose to say yes to that. The legacy and love caught in these little heads – bobbing next to each other like happy daffodils on a spring day. The pride and joy I have looking into their sunny faces… and yet I also know the true depths of what this really means now.
“I was not sleepwalking anymore” rolls round and round inside my head, chiming like a bell, or like a glassy marble spinning in a pot.
I was utterly naive at the arrival of my first – and so utterly overwhelmed by it. I arrived at motherhood in a sleepy dream comprising of warm little kisses, adoring faces, children who attended to my every word and behaved in a way that extolled their parents.
I knew nothing of the rest –
The sharp reality of broad daylight.
But I am two children deep now and the process has changed me. I know what a third will mean. Not just the years more of sleepless, dreamless nights; of head aching tiredness; of plastic toys that seem to incessantly multiply and will never be put away; of more dreams put on hold; of rushed meals only just saved from the brink of incineration through distraction; of extremes of emotion that hit both despair and overwhelming thankfulness… but the cost to the depths of who I am.
Children are my gift. A gift of wonder and deep, life-giving waters. But I am wide-eyed and fully awake as to the impact on my inner being. I can ride it out a little longer, knowing that with every sleepless night I draw closer to their increasing independence and my increasing freedom. This sounds ungrateful, which is not my intent. I treasure their dependence on me, but in juxtaposition to this I also crave their independence from me.
Who will I be by the time this fully comes to fruition? I don’t even want to be fully free – but just to hold a little, tiny piece of freedom between my fingers. Like sand in my hands – I would not let it run through back to its nothingness, I would build my sandcastles with the little I had. For all and nobody to see.
Would anyone stop on the beach and see my castle of sand? Our society doesn’t have much to say or do with middle-agers, or mothers in fact, no matter what you build…
[had to stop midway to go tackle a raging 4 year old screaming
“idiots” at his innocent grandparents]
But my years (and my children-induced wrinkles) have seasoned both my soul and my art form, and surely there is something beneficial to share in that?
“I was not sleepwalking anymore…”
I am not sleepwalking anymore.
I will not sleepwalk anymore.
My vision is clearer.
The mist has lifted off the sea.
The same can be said for my creativity, as for my motherhood. They work in parallel. In sync in some ways. I am not the naive writer/musician that I used to be – chasing the glossy fantasy that I was fed and owned. I am wide awake. Bright-eyed under the heap of concealer and blusher that makes me look less tired than I feel inside. As the metaphorical matchsticks prop open my eyes, I write with wide open eyes, a wide open soul, and with the knowledge that I will welcome child number three and the spectrum of emotions that they will bring with wide arms and a wide, ever expanding heart.
Though sometimes sleepwalking is easier.