Water is refreshing. Water is the life force that connects us all. It can be angry (the ocean during a storm), calm (a lake), or happy (a gurgling fountain). Everyone loves water; but it can also drown you.
When I became a mother, it was initially refreshing. And by “refreshing,” I mean I had to refresh my memory about everything I thought I had learned in my nine months of studying up on what to do with a baby. Because I actually knew nothing.
Squash newborn floppy head into a onesie? Not a clue. How to get baby spit-up stains out of favorite clothes? Just throw them in the trash, they’re ruined. What to do when infant screams all night for no apparent reason? Hold him, feed him, and invest in a really great set of Bose noise-reduction headphones.
I look around at all the beleaguered mommies at the pediatrician’s office. They are there to get shots and yearly check-ups for that sweet new life that society calls “child,” but they should beg for a nice little Vicodin or Percocet prescription for themselves while they happen to be in a medical facility.
Force. We do everything by force, of course. Force him to brush his teeth, force her to go to the bathroom, force them to do their homework, force him to apologize for inadvertently using a little too much, uh, force (that word again!) and leaving a nasty bruise when he kicked his brother's leg. The force is with us.
Motherhood is all about connections. Connections to distant family, connections by phone and email, connections with new neighbors and friends, connections to teachers, connections to the right toy store employee who always calls with a friendly reminder the day before a big sale.
I can be angry. Angry about not being listened to, angry about being ignored.
I can be calm, usually as the school bus pulls away and both my kids are on it. I feel beautiful turquoise waves of calm wash over me. This feeling last until 3:30.
I am happy (most of the time). Happy my sons are happy, happy they are healthy and smart and lucky.
Yet I drown. Daily. I am drowning in laundry, drowning in the experience of motherhood, drowning in the excessive paperwork required to be an accepted card-carrying “parent” (Social Security cards/ bank accounts/ immunization records/ macaroni artwork/ Target coupons/ library books/ Kindergarten class photos/ birthday party invitations/ magazine articles telling me how to do it all and have it all, yet the magazine never actually sends the assistant over to demonstrate), drowning in trying to fulfill everyone’s (society’s? my husband’s? my own?) unrealistic expectations.
But mostly I drown in love.
("My Ordinary Vision")