Man… there is so much going on. I’m trying to hang on to the edge of the world whilst it spins around.
Of course the motherhood thing takes precedence. What an abrupt change! It really is literally overnight that your whole world changes. And there’s NOTHING in the 9 – 10 months of gestation that prepares you for the rigors of the actual care and maintenance of the little one. Actually, if you play your cards right the 9 – 10 months is probably the last bits of really restful sleep / “alone” time you’ll get before it all gets started and stabilized. But it doesn’t matter. It’s not like you can save up sleep from those days to carry you through the next few weeks / months that it takes to get a “schedule” going. Thank God for maternity leave. I was talking to a woman at work who back in the day had no maternity leave and she had her baby on a Tuesday and was back to work the following Monday. I think my brain would have exploded if I had to do that. It’s extremely good that you get those weeks to kind of ease into it all – so if the baby kept you up all night – you can manage to sleep it off the next day and not have to worry about deadlines and things needed from the thousand points of light that normally are always asking something of you. I have about 5 more weeks to go of this “quiet” in the rest of my life. But this part of my life is so noisy – I’m not sure it makes a difference.
We’re moving. E’s mom has a rental property on the top floor of her brownstone and it’s twice the space that we currently have which would give the baby a room of her own and afford us a dining room in addition to the rooms we currently have. Originally the set up was that she would charge us a discounted rate for the next year so that we could bank about 200 – 300 dollars so that the dream / aspiration of getting our own home could be closer in reach. But after all the renovations, she is charging us so that we’ll only be able to bank 100 bucks. So basically paying the same thing we pay now for twice the space. There are several pros and cons to this whole situation. The biggest con is that we’ll be living above his mother. I can’t say I’ve ever seen ONE situation where this ends up with the mother and daughter in law being best of friends upon parting. I thought it could be different with us. But as the days pass… I see all the things creeping in that are going to make us fast enemies and put E in compromising situations. Increasingly more comments about my parenting style… her deciding she wants to care for my daughter the way she wants to and not the way I asked her to… constant referral to the property upstairs as “hers” (I mean… it is… and we know that… but our current landlady doesn’t show up every few times a week just to remind us that we live on HER property). We asked her if we could paint the walls to which she responded “Yeah, you can – just don’t mess up my floors.” Okay. So I tarped the floors really good and we started getting busy – but E got wrapped up in being picasso for the baby’s room. So i ended up painting a whole room by myself. On one of my breaks downstairs to check on the baby and get a little air conditioning she asked me if I thought I was “overdoing it”…. No. I don’t. When we moved into the current apartment we just started getting things into the house we never thought to paint it with all the furniture coming in. The walls were and have been eggshell and white. For four years. I didn’t want to take the chance that should we be there for longer than 1 year that I’d be living in “heaven” again with all the white walls and ceilings. But I’m taking it as her asking me if perhaps I can see that SHE perceives me to be going overboard with the painting by her standards. I wonder if she would have asked a tenant off the street the same question. This is just one example of MANY quick commentaries I’ve been fielding from her in the last few days that we’ve been at the house painting and preparing for the move. There’s only so much button-lipdedness I can exercise before I say something……
Then there’s the family dynamic. When you boil it all the way down and take the frills off of it and cut away the fluff? I’m the only “stranger” moving into that complex when it goes down. EVERYONE else in that building is family by blood. Mother, Aunt, Brothers, Cousins. I’m the only non-blood relation. Even my daughter is their blood. And boy – I’m really feeling it. I understand that my family is really no where to be found because since I committed the cardinal sin of moving to brooklyn after getting married and away from my Queens based family that I no longer deserve their time / attention / travel to be around me and my family. And there’s only so much reaching out in their direction I can do without any get back from them. So decidedly, my little girl will know her father’s family better. I guess it’s always one side more than the other. Or at least in my experience. My brother and I definitely knew my mother’s side of the family waaaay better than my dad’s side. And that was for whatever reasons – they hadn’t traveled up to America – they didn’t really call a lot or make efforts to visit or ask for us to visit… so Mom’s side DID – to the point where they lived with us for varied spans of time (which was good and bad) but we knew them. I do truly feel that I’m all alone there. I’m the only one not raised in THEIR way. And so if I say something off color or kilter… I’m the one who’ll get the side eye like “who’s this bitch?” I’ve never felt like more of an island. I think that I won’t be able to be myself. Sing loudly. Have company. Play my music on a Sunday morning. Walk heavy – all for the fear of being reprimanded for… well… being myself. Meanwhile – everyone else will be just fine.
The family dynamic brings another dimension – PRIVACY. I believe that for the benefit of saving a whole $100 a month and for essentially living above Mommy-Day-Care for the baby, I am giving up every shred of my personal privacy and freedom. I think that our apartment will be a veritable Grand Central Station for their family to just run up and down as they see fit. I may never have time for me and my nuclear family alone. I’m afraid to come out of the bathroom after a shower (bathroom is in the main hallway 2 doors down from what would be our bedroom) and find a family member of his wandering about. And I think that enough of that? will be enough to destroy us. We’re fighting as it is to make sure that we work every day – and that’s been in the vacuum of privacy that is our little apartment where it’s just us. I am scared that moving in under the bright light of his family’s observance may break us. I don’t want it to. I just need to put it in writing to get it out of my head.
On top of ALL of that? I’m having so much trouble bonding with my little one. There were umpteen roadblocks stopping us from garnering this natural, ethereal connection that was supposed to be present at birth for her and I. I couldn’t give birth vaginally. I didn’t get to hold her in my arms for 6 hours. I didn’t get to properly begin breastfeeding until 10 days later. No one would believe that real bonafide side eye action that I get from this girl. And I know it takes time for some folks. I’m just worried that all this added “outside” interaction will water it down and I’ll ultimately become just a character in the background for her when she retells her life story. Not that I wanted top billing? But as this move draws nigh, I feel less like her mom and more like a glorified nanny who only gets occasional use. Maybe a little more alone, quiet time together and that might change. All the mothers I know assure me that this is 100% temporary and that I won’t feel this way for long. All the articles I read told me that I really shouldn’t have taken on this many life changes post-partum.
I suppose it will all come out in the wash sooner or later.