A journal entry from January 2007:
I haven’t made any New Years Resolutions yet, and I’m not sure I will—2006 felt completely outside my grasp, like everything I reached for shifted location or shape just as put my hands on it. Maybe next year I’ll only search for what I really need, and not let myself be distracted by what’s easier or more possible. Maybe I’ll just own up to my desires for more of all the best things: more dancing, more nights under the stars, more parties, more sex, more honesty, more swimming naked, more live music, more writing, more beauty, more dark chocolate and tight jeans and long drives and unnecessary side trips to my favorite bridges and alleys.
I haven’t journaled much in the past 8 years, and I’m surprised to have found this little gem.
2006 had been a difficult year: I was 29, I had just started a new job, and right after my grandmother died I found out I was pregnant. I was flooded with grief and hope and loss and possibility and joy all mixed together. It was June. The peonies were blooming in my garden.
Dorothy was born in April 2007. I was 7 months pregnant when I was imagining dancing and skinny dipping and writing (!) and going to concerts.
Reading that list of the experiences I intended to search for in 2007, I’m tempted to ask, “What was I thinking?” But I know what I was thinking. I was terrified that becoming a mother would mean the end of that life, the end of that self who spent nights under the stars and rocked out hard. And not just in the sense that those experiences would be harder to come by; even though I had deeply wanted to be pregnant, I feared being swept away by motherhood, my desires and pleasures and confidence upended by a tidal wave of bouncy seats and smooshed bananas and dirty diapers. I had spent my 20s struggling to build a sense of identity; now I was staring down 30, pregnant, my decision to leave grad school still a relatively open wound. I wanted to believe I could be a mom and still be wholly, imperfectly, me.
Maybe it shouldn’t have been, but it was completely surprising to me that the mom version of me was still me—except, perhaps, that I had no idea I could love like this. Holding Dorothy for the first time, whispering her name—my grandmother’s name—to her? I have always thought of myself as a person who falls hard, who loves big, but I was absolutely unprepared for the intensity of my love for my children, and for the realization that that love, that depth, hadn’t replaced my identity but had opened up alongside the rest of me: my love for this tiny new being alongside my passion for the front row, for a stiff, sweet drink, for swimming in cold, clear water.
Unexpected joy: finding out I mother in the same messy, imperfect ways I have lived the rest of my life. New experiences creating surprising new layers of joy and relief and self. Hiking in the redwoods with a baby in a backpack. Watching The Muppets with D as she tries to figure out why Beaker (“that skinny oval”) only says MEEP. Margeaux quacking every time we say duck.Hearing Lucy say “mysterious” in her not quite a toddler not quite a little girl voice. The intensity of their connection as sisters, in moments sweet (snuggled up together on the couch reading Frog and Toad) and not-so-sweet (shoving each other in an attempt to be first to the kitchen to tearfully tattle that a game of “kick foot eye poke” turned sour). Overhearing D and Lucy singing ‘A You’re Adorable’ to Margeaux when she fusses. Teaching them to recognize birds and flowers: the blue jays nesting in the pine tree, the robins hopping across the yard, the peonies blooming in the garden.
This post is part of the Unexpected contest hosted by Momalom and featuring adorably awesome prizes from 3 Sprouts. If I win, I’m hanging this penguin organizer next to D’s desk for all her paper and drawings and supplies.