I had a dream last night I was running a 5K... Only I began the race wearing my orange flats.
"I can't do it!" I wailed to J as lithe runners breezed by me. "I forgot my sneakers!" I couldn't bear to look at his face, he was so disappointed in me. For me.
I was angry with myself. In the dream, I wondered if I will ever manage to finish what I start.
I woke up resolved.
Remember, back earlier this week, when I told you I was a parenting genius?
I'm a jackass.
Last night, it was J's turn for a night with the boys. We're both completely committed to keeping our sanity as we navigate first-time parenthood, so time away - alone or with friends - is of the utmost importance. We strive to make sure the other's solitude is well-guarded, which is actually a passage from Rilke that J's sister read at our wedding:
The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of their solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust.
So where was I? J = out.
"I'll be home by 8:30," he told me, reluctant to leave us.
"No - stay out until at least nine. H'll be asleep by 8:30, and I'll be on this couch with a glass of wine when you get back."
Hendrik was extremely agitated last night. Nothing I did worked. He wanted to nurse or scream. There was no middle ground. I could barely eat my sad little dinner (pasta with jarred spaghetti sauce) as the poor child would not stay calm.
So I rocked him, and I nursed him, and I shushed him. I swaddled him and I nursed him and I shushed him. I put him on my chest facing the TV, thinking he might like to watch So You Think You Can Dance with me, but he was seemingly as horrified by Mia Michaels critiques as his mama. I turned off the television - thinking it too distracting - and rocked him. When I went to nurse him for the FLOPPITY-JILLIONITH time, he clamped down on my left nipple so hard I groaned from the searing pain.
It was a groan born of frustration and hurt and exasperation. It was louder than I anticipated.
And my baby pulled away from me, pouted his lower lip, and began to sob.
When J arrived home, he wordlessly took a dozing H from my arms and commenced rocking him.
"Go," he whispered. "I've got him."
I brushed my teeth. It was 9:15, and I had not done that yet all day.
I showered, and when J came into the bathroom a few moments later - babe tucked peacefully in his bassinet - I cried.
"I scared our baby! I've traumatized him for sure."
And J told me that of course I had not traumatized him. I dried my tears and we went downstairs like a real-live married couple and I poured myself a VAT of wine. And we had an actual conversation - about my old job, about my career prospects, about Master's degrees - and suddenly I started to feel better. I admitted to J that I might be a little depressed. Not clinically depressed... just sad. I've been in a relationship with my company for over 6 years; severing ties will take some getting used to, as any break-up would.
HomeValley circa 2000 could handle a break-up. There were the requisite tears; the long, self-indulgent diatribes to good girlfriends; the pensive walks - discman and Britney Spears "Stronger" in hand - around Manhattan. The new haircut, the more svelte physique, the 4.0 GPA. A break-up is a wonderful excuse to be self-indulgent; to recommit to myself, to reinvent myself, to learn from past mistakes and resolve to be better.
And so that's my mission. I choose to accept it.
A very wise woman once said:
"The hardest part of moving forward... is never looking back."
- Sally from Felicity
I'm ten years older, ten years wiser; but some things never change.