Cluck, Cluck, Cluck

11 May 2008

My Motherhood, Myself

I am not an overly emotional kind of girl. I’ve managed to keep it together pretty well over the past three years in particular. Three years that have been filled with pregnancy and the joint arrival of a new baby and a disintegrating marriage. Capital letter events like: Estrangement, Separation, NEW relationships, Divorce, new Babies, Illness, Toddler-dom, finally the beginnings of something resembling Reconciliation, a life separate, but still eternally connected.

And here it is, Mother’s Day again. An impossible time of year to not reflect upon my own motherhood and the unexpected twists and turns that have led to where we are today, my two year old daughter and I, watching Caillou in my parent’s living room.


Three years ago, while on an impromptu getaway weekend to visit friends up north, I got myself pregnant over Mother’s Day weekend. I didn’t realize this shocking fact until weeks later while traveling in Europe. The exhaustion and mental fatigue that this realization tossed into the mix made for a bit of a trying trip and a fair amount of resentment over the need for thirty five pound backpacks, camping on the ground, and a lot of barfing on a lot of trains.

The pregnancy went reasonably smoothly, I think that every bump and twist of a first pregnancy seems more dramatic than it probably is in reality. We spent most of the summer traveling through Europe, taking in New York City, visiting family in my hometown, and finally driving up the AlCan Highway in my little sister’s little truck v e r y s l o w l y with a very large trailer filled with all her belongings in tow.


In the fall we started back to school. I finished my B.A. in Literature. My husband went back to teaching and finishing his graduate thesis. I took naps on my yoga mat under the desk in his study carol in the library using my messenger bag as a pillow.

We sold our condo, bought, radically renovated, and moved into a bigger house on New Year’s Eve. Three weeks later our daughter was born, one week early, 8.5 pounds and 20 ½ inches long. She had lots of golden brown hair, long fingers, and eyes as sparklingly blue as the heart of a glacier which was fitting as the temperature read -28 as we drove to the hospital the morning she was born.


It was a long, cold, sleepless winter and spring. I started working a bit a couple of months after the baby was born because the combination of the giant new mortgage and the graduate teaching stipend scared the tar out of me. In June I was presented with a big, job opportunity that would last only six months. The school year was over and my husband was home most days with the baby who always seemed happier around him than she did me.

We decided to separate by August 1st. My job required longer hours than my husband thought were reasonable, there was tension and strife in our home and we didn’t want our baby raised in an environment that we both felt pretty helpless to control.

I moved out and into a small apartment owned by a generous friend. Tensions flared as they often do, but everything was amplified by the ‘unusual situation’, the fact that it was the mother who had moved, the father who stayed home. When winter rolled around again and my second job, the one that helped to pay the mortgage on that new house where my child lived, took me to the State Capital for four months of the spring.

We resolved the issues of our separation and formally filed for divorce just after the fourth anniversary of our marriage. I met someone and reluctantly entered into a new relationship. I was diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease which answered a lot of questions, but caused radical shifts in my diet and overall health and demeanor.

My daughter, mother and I traveled for two weeks in June to California. I lived with generous friends at home that summer. Tensions ran high through the time we were divorced, the day before the anniversary of our separation.

By the arrival of fall I was exhausted and emotionally spent. I had some money in the bank and was no and no longer paying any part of a mortgage. I quit my job and enrolled in graduate school. The man I had been involved with since the spring invited me to live with him to save on overhead while attending school and to advance our relationship. It was an enormous leap of faith on both our parts as we each had a failed marriage in our pasts and a lot of predictable fears.


In January I packed a carry-on suitcase and returned to my parents’ house for a five day trip to celebrate my daughter’s second birthday. Immediately preceding my return, my father had been hospitalized for a shoulder removal surgery, the final attempt to rid his body of a MRSA infection that had been ravaging his body for over five years. Release from the hospital, we discovered, would require round the clock in home care and i.v. injections administered every eight hours, 24/7 for several months. It was decided that I would stay, in my high school bedroom, in my parents’ house for an indeterminate amount of time to help with his care.

The winter and spring in my parents’ house was not easy. It was exhausting and full of stress and rapid change. There have been positives though. Staying home with my father has meant that I have been able to stay home, full-time with my daughter for the first time since she was an infant. We have eaten meals together everyday and gone to the pool, baked cookies and raked the yard, gone for coffee, and shopped at the bookstore. Taken long bubble baths and big girl showers, braided hair, read stories, taken naps, potty trained, and practiced riding bikes on the sidewalk as the snow melted.

Her dad and I have started talking again, reading books about co-parenting, and eating lunch from time to time to make plans for our daughter for the coming months as she transitions into the role of big sister to two brothers.

Yesterday, my daughter and both her parents went together to visit the playschool she will begin attending in the fall.

Last night, my mostly non-emotional self bawled through the sappiest movie I have seen in recent memory. I am, on a normal day, way to cynical to shed tears over your run of the mill chick flick, but P.S. I Love You floored me. I cried and cried for hours.

I cried because my marriage had died. I cried because my life and my motherhood and my family is so radically different from what I had planned. Because this spring of being a stay at home mom will only last through the fall and then reality will have to set in again. I cried because we’ve all made it through the roller coaster of the past three years and the ride has come to an end. Friendship has started to settle into a relationship that I feared for a long time was poisoned beyond repair with pain, anger, and resentment.

I cried because its is Mother’s Day weekend and for the first time since I became pregnant, I will get to enjoy it fully with my daughter, planting flowers in my parent’s yard. I cried and cried and felt better when I recovered than I had felt in ages.

And then, yesterday morning, when my daughter came bounding in through laundry room of my parents’ house while I was making coffee, I groggily looked up to see her father holding flowers and a card for me, her mother. To say that flowers from my daughter and her father were unexpected is a colossal understatement, but I didn’t burst into tears. I did wrap my arms around my daughter’s father, almost involuntarily. It has been years since we had shared a hug. Our physical contact has been consciously limited to the passing back and forth of a baby or squirmy toddler since she was born.

This weekend we have lazed about and planted flowers and dressed up in party dresses to go out to dinner with my parents. In a few weeks we will pack up and head back to my new home and for the summer and in the fall she will return back to her “Daddy House” and her growing family.

It doesn’t look like I thought it would, but my daughter is a happy, thriving, active, independent little creature. She has a large family of people who love her and who she loves right back. Motherhood isn’t what I expected it to be, but in so many ways it is so much more than I ever anticipated and we all keep on growing every single day.


Donn24g said...

I am a new blogger, just started reading your entries... what a strong woman you are, what a story. Happy belated Mother's Day.

Donn24g said...

I am a new blogger and recently linked up reading Snickollet's blog (i saw on CNN). You are such a strong woman, what a story! Happy belated Mother's day!