One morning at the villa with my family (see photos from our week away here and here), my mom offered to watch the kids and sent me outside with a magazine. Barely 15 minutes had gone by before she was sheepishly bringing me my crying baby… do you think he knew I left him or something? :)
Anyway, Gil and I stayed there for about an hour. After eating, he eventually dozed off on my shoulder. I asked my brother to take some photos of us. Isn’t it such a beautiful setting? But also, for me, these photos capture a beautiful memory of time with my son.
To be frank with you, these days have been hard. Hard in ways I never anticipated. Gil is two months old today, and these past two months he has spent mostly needing me, fussing/crying/screaming, or tenuously asleep (often next to me). Elliott and I have felt our reserves of patience and perspective draining away, and the result is that we’ve been short-tempered with everyone (each other, Lena, Gil, the cat…).
Basically, in two months Gil has taught us more about the difficulties of parenting than Lena did in two years.
Meanwhile, I have felt such a complete loss of self. I am writing this while sitting on the living room rug surrounded by scattered toys and unfolded laundry. Gil is next to me on a blanket, kicking away and touching my knee with his fist. He is making little noises that tells me his brief happiness will not last much longer. I am wearing my new uniform — yoga pants, nursing tank top, slippers, and whatever hair style I slept in — and I am struggling to find words in my fuzzy, sleep-deprived brain.
*pause to soothe Gil to sleep*
When I say “loss of self,” I mean two things. First there is the natural loss of the person I was: someone who had one child, who could keep a relatively tidy house, who put on regular clothes every morning, who managed to leave the house without every trip turning into a “you aren’t going to believe this” story.
But there is also the loss of self because there is very little room for self anymore in this new life. My baby needs me, my toddler needs me, my husband needs me (and needs not just the leftovers). There’s almost no time to read a book, to work on a knitting project, to read a friend’s blog, to write a long email. The natural response to this — selfishness — predictably and frustratingly just sets us all back instead of moving us forward. And yet selfishness rears its ugly head more than ever when self is continually denied.
I don’t have any well-thought-out, clean way to conclude here, especially as Gil is crying again already. Let me simply say… these pictures give me perspective. Gil, for all his anxious tears these days, is still a handsome, healthy little boy, and more than likely he’ll outgrow this stage. And so will we!
I am so grateful to be a mother. To be his mother. I love him so.