I am bone-tired this morning. Even my heel-pads ache. I gardened, ran and worked out yesterday in addition to taking Jack to a trial French class, going to the market, and actively negotiating Wii usage for hours, so there's all that, but still.
Last night, Tom and I made a simple but superb spring dinner last night and then sank to the couch like weights dropped in a stream.
We finished Episode 1 of the new documentary, Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies (based on the book by Siddhartha Mukherjee). Despite the heavy subject, it's really, really excellent. Toggling back and forth between past and present, it provides, through the sobering lens of pediatric leukemia, a thorough sense of the evolution of cancer understanding and treatment which is both fascinating and hopeful. You want to kiss the feet of the brave doctors who have persevered in the face of kids dying horrible deaths and then go hug your children and send gratitude for their health into the skies.
I'm now sitting quietly on my couch, both utterly tranquil and stressed about how soon this peaceful solitude will end. T took the boys to swimming lessons about a half hour ago, so I gather I have just about 40 minutes left to read the paper and finish this post and my coffee. Naturally I know that's impossible, and while I will be happy to see the boys rush through our door and regale me with news of their progress and which Dum-Dum flavor each chose, it is mornings like these, when much of me wishes I had the whole day ahead of me and alone, that I feel so very stretched by motherhood.
Yesterday, after meeting Jack's French teacher and surveying the classroom, I hugged him goodbye and said I'd be back at the end.
"Je t'aime, Mom."
"Je t'aime aussi, Doodle."
What a soulful love that little boy is. I want to give him every opportunity and walk alongside him as he forges ahead in life. But that giving tends to tip the scales away from time to pursue my own interests and goals. In the most unequal of moments, I feel as if the early years of motherhood strongly suggest I put huge swaths of my life on hold. Daily. For a long while.
I don't resent that, but it compounds the challenges of motherhood which are already great.
Children are not goals. I have hopes for my boys, sure. But other than feeling confident that I'm raising terrific humans, I don't derive from mothering them the sense of accomplishment I do in finishing an essay or laying that last bag of mulch. Nor do I feel I should, for children are people not pursuits.
At times it is utterly thrilling to feel yourself subsumed by something, but in other moments, it's discomfiting. As if a force beyond your control is reeling your soul away to an unknown land. Do you know what I mean?
I love my boys with such fierce desperation. Yet within that cocoon of love I sometimes feel bits of myself slipping away, as if on a boat that's loosed its moors. I don't feel I can push back on them in the way I do T or friends; not yet at least.
Surely this is one reason so many people speak of parenthood in terms of sacrifice. I'm not totally comfortable with that word in this context, except in the most denotative of ways: there are, literally, sacrifices made (financial, for example).
But, I chose to have children, so it seems unjust to then burden them or our relationship with the guilty connotations of words like job and sacrifice. And so for now, I find my way, in moments stolen and planned, in the words swimming through my head and committed to the page. And I am grateful for it all.