Being and becoming

We went to a first birthday party today, which was lovely.

Now that I’m back at paid work, time is flying by. Young children grow very fast, and with busier days, it’s just whooom zhooom, zip, blink, wow. Two and a half months ago, when the little dude turned one, he was not yet walking and had no discernible words. He runs now, and he seems to pick up a new word every couple of days. It’s so amazing. So amazing. 

I remember that post I wrote last year when I realised my baby wouldn’t be sticking around much longer, and yeah, we’re at the stage now that startled me then. Not a baby. Still kinda my baby, but not really a baby. He’s a little kid. 

My mother tells me that sometimes in the morning when she’s half asleep, she forgets for a moment that my brother and I are grown-up. She lies there in dozy anticipation of two blonde, green-eyed children coming to share the bed and ask whether it’s a school day or a stay at home day.

It’s just about two years since I became pregnant. I’ve changed a lot, probably more than in any other two year span since I was a young teenager. This time two years ago we were on holiday in Thailand, hiking in Khao Sok National Park and spraying Listerine on leeches as they tried to make their way up our legs because I read it on some website. It really works! You do end up smelling of Listerine though. We were eating fried rice out of banana leaves and swimming fully clothed in a warm warm swimming hole. Fully clothed because leeches, yeah. In terms of the narrative of reminiscing, the leeches do kinda spoil it. We had a great time in Thailand! Also blood-sucking crawly slimy things!

A friend has recently binge-read (is that a thing?) this blog, and asked me whether in retrospect, would I say I had postnatal depression, all that stuff I wrote about it being really hard and all the sad-sop kvetching. The answer is no, but, yeah, it was bloody tough. I don’t think I was depressed; I was very sleep deprived, and I didn’t have enough adult company during the day. Some days in winter I wouldn’t go out because it was such bad weather and there was nowhere to go, and we didn’t have much money to spare for things like parking and activities, and just getting up the stairs to the car and back into the house later seemed liable to drench both me and the baby, and at least home was warm.

Also, the birth was absolutely horrendous, I try not to think about it. My post-baby body was changed in unexpected ways that continue to get me down (I’m not talking about cosmetic stuff like stretchmarks). I became a mother, so all of a sudden I was expected to know exactly how to meet the every need of my baby and to be delighted in doing it all the time. Of course it made me feel a bit desperate. 

If depression is being stuck in the middle of an ocean on a dark night in a storm, I was just out of depth at a surf beach and kept getting pulled under by the waves.

And that’s falling in love, isn’t it? Being out of depth. Being pulled under. A mama falls in love with her baby, and just like any relationship, the falling in love is overwhelming, emotionally pummelling even while it’s the greatest thing ever. Where exactly will you land, at the other side of the fall? 

Being in love, on the other hand, is comfortable. Once love is worn-in you can wear it lightly. You don’t have to worry about how it might change you, because it has changed you, and it feels like it was always meant to be that way.