Tuesday, March 22, 2011

breaking wind

Shhhhh. Don't make sudden movements. Don't even exhale too loudly. You might break the spell.

I am blogging.

I am having a moment with my laptop.

If we're very lucky, I may even press publish when I am done.

It has indeed been a while, and the world has shifted on its axis since last we spoke. No really. It was the earthquake.

And the baby.

I have a baby now. I'll say it again, coz I never believe it when I hear myself say it. I have a baby now. Not just any baby mind you. I have Josef, philosopher child of the kind and thoughtful eyes, the wide open bellowing mouth and the gurgling drainpipe appetite. He who is patiently teaching his mother how to mother, sometimes with gentle chiding and sometimes with loud insistence at the top of those ferocious lungs.

Two blogs are not better than one
So about that two blog divide, and blogging about the baby on the baby blog and keeping this space for “me”. Ha.

You see, when pregnant, I maintained this teetering illusion that I could somehow keep a writerly self going, and reserve space in another room for the babytalk. Because not everyone wants to hear about reflux and winds and cuteness and sleeplessness. Not wanting to haemorrhage readers off this blog, I imagined I could neatly cleave the two apart.

The logic behind the two blog strategy was, I think, that I was guarding against that thing that I had heard that happens to new mothers, where their former identity + time + life + self + entire existence gets swamped by the minutiae of the baby's urgent (but, to the outside world, boring) clamours. I think I thought I would be vigilant about defending the space to write as tam the muse-chaser, rather than tam the poo-catcher and not to let the one be totally overrun by the other until I'd learned to edit my rapture.


That's not gonna happen.

This child is the everyday texture of my life now. Edited or not, the rapture, the babytalk, the tiny (and, to non-parents – boring) details of our emerging selves is all that there is.

And while there is indeed a cleaving, into self and mother, it is not neat, it is not compartmentalised. It is raw and messy.

It's like – there's a train leaving the station right now and you simply must get on it – a matter of extreme and utter urgency. You must get on this train with the baby, that is all you know. And so you do. And it roars off with a deafening clackety clack, while simultaneously slowing to a jagged stop-motion blur. And you look back at the platform and realise that you or someone who looks just like you didn't get on to the train. A ghost husk, hand raised as if to wave, or say stop, or open the door I'm getting on too- there she stands. Getting smaller on the horizon. And you keep wondering if she'll jump on somewhere else or catch a bus or catch up somehow, because you desperately need her, because maybe she knows what to do, how to be a mother, how to – slow down the blur.

No. it's not like that.

It's like - Suddenly you are a giant, a nimble, many limbed ubermom ogre who cannibalizes all other versions of herself in the quest to soothe and feed and wipe and shush.

No, its not like that either.

When I walk around the garden carrying the baby and singing om mani padme hum to get him to sleep, my mind is full of words. Stories I want to tell you, cascading glittering sentences unfurling, alive with poetry and song, jewelled with witty one-liners. If I could just get a moment at the computer, oh the stories I would write...

And then the baby gets to sleep and I am dizzy, frantic with all the possibility of what I could be doing with this entire 45 minutes... I could bath! I could have a hot cup of tea! I could clean the kitchen, blog, reply to emails, read...deal with festering growth areas of clutter...

And so I sit, and stare. Mute. Words draining away, thoughts snookering themselves down blind alleys. Aware of the shoulders (ow) the feet (phew). Things people have said to me floating across my awareness like a tacky screensaver: "it gets easier." "You must ask for help"
"You must take time for yourself"
"It does get easier you know. The first six weeks are the hardest."
"After three months it gets easier."
"After six months it gets easier."
"The first eighteen months are the hardest."

Slowly, the fog clears. The kettle boils. The bath fills. I am juuuust about to -

and then the baby cries.

On a good day, I might get to wash my hair. I suppose no writer ever lay on their deathbed and said “I wish my hair had been cleaner” or “I wish I'd done the dishes more.” But the woman who got on the train without me? She reaaaaallly needs clean surfaces, apparently.

But the point is (there was one, I could have sworn there was) is that in those weird segments of warped time which feel like hours but are actually only minutes, when you walk with the crying baby on your shoulder in the garden singing om mani padme hum, when long reels of blogworthy words flicker through the thoughts like home movies, you know you can capture it all - every tender moment. Fully realised characters wink at you through snarls of story begging to be untangled - but alas, without the time or brainpower to actually sit and do the work of stitching and cutting and threading, the words remain in burgeoning clutter areas of my brain, begging to be swept out. Blogging, it turns out, is not a big one on Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

When I started this draft of this particular post, he was “15 weeks today.” Today, as I sit and revise it, with husband out of town, I realise that he is 22 weeks. For the six hundred and twenty ninth time since he was born, I realise that no-one is going to give me a medal for this. For weathering the ear-rattling crying that accompanied his first refluxy four months of life, when I could barely put him down, for the heart dropping feeling at the 1.00am wake-up (why, little guy? You just ate two hours ago...) or for the tiny victories - opening a bottle of tissue salts with one hand, crushing the tablet between two teaspoons with the other, salting his tongue with Camomilla, a tongue which is vibrating as loudly as your eardrums. Waiting to see if this works...it does. Working a tiny but treacherous little air bubble out... aah the beautiful silence after a burp breaks.

No. No one will give me a medal.

But thats ok.
Why is it ok?
Because of this.

And this

And this

this boy, who's making me into a mother.

OH – and about the other blog (I knew there was a point – there it is!) this is just me now, ok. Deal with it, or move swiftly along. These are the Poo Diaries. The muses have fled.