May 4, 2009

thoughts after spending an entire day alone

I love having time to myself. As I get older, I get less and less me time. I spent three years living alone starting ten years ago, and even though I was suffering from the Great Depression at the time, I still look back on that time with extreme fondness. I sat in front of the computer and chain-smoked, watched whatever movies I wanted, listened to the same songs over and over, and ate spaghetti noodles with butter for many, many meals. It wasn't the healthiest of lifestyles, but it was mine, dammit.

Since I'm now on maternity leave, I find myself reverting back to old habits I had during that time. I sleep when I feel like it, watch random movies, walk around and listen to my iPod. (Obviously, I am not chain-smoking.) When I get up the nerve, I do some things that actually matter, like washing clothes and diapers for Charlie. But I haven't exactly been all that productive.

I have to wonder why I obsess about getting things done. Is it because I'm an American and we as a society tend to be really concerned with how much we can cram into one day? Is it my personality? I don't know. But what I do know is that I feel really out of sorts about having this much unclaimed time on my hands. I simply don't know what to do with myself sometimes. It's not all that simple to ease into a routine that I have complete control over.

I tend to fall into a mild depression every summer due to the fact that life really slows down for me (and the heat doesn't help). It'll be interesting to see what happens this summer, what with the post-partum hormones and all.

I've been having a lot of anxiety lately. I have a lot of emotions that I really don't know what to do with. Everyone keeps asking me if I'm ready for Charlie, and inside I am just screaming, "NO!" I mean, I can't wait to meet him and hold him and let him change my world, but there is a part of me that just doesn't feel capable of being a good mother. I wonder if it's normal to have this much doubt or if I am crazy or something. I feel like many, many doors are going to shut when I become a mother, and while I know that many doors will open as well, it's still something that I haven't made peace with yet.

I never was a big party girl or anything. Sure, I had my moments when I spent time at hole-in-the-wall dive bars, but it was never a big part of my life. The ability to walk into a bar and pick up a guy if I wanted to was never something I mourned when I met Roy. But now I find myself almost grieving over losing that. I feel like I'm losing my youth in exchange for talk about poop and nursing and the like. I don't know how to feel about it. I mean, it's not like I want to walk into a bar and pick up a guy. But there's a certain satisfaction in knowing that I have that option, even though I actually gave up that option when I got married. It feels like more of a loss now. I didn't even think about it two years ago when I was preparing to get married.

I guess I am making that final transition to what I have always perceived adulthood to be, and I don't know what that means for me. Who will I be as a "real" adult? Will I wear mom jeans and become completely scatterbrained? Will I remain a punctual person or will I always be late? Will I stop wearing the little makeup that I wear now, trade in my somewhat cute clothes for attire that's more functional, and lose whatever sex appeal I have left? Will I be so overtaken by the needs of my child(ren) that I forget my own desires and dreams? Am I going to be one of those moms who can't have a conversation that's not about her kids?

Honestly, I am scared to death of the imminent changes ahead. I know that it's a trade-off and that I am going to love Charlie (I already love him to pieces), but I can't help but be scared that I will lose myself in the process. I keep thinking back on the things I should have done. Should I have gone to a really prestigious college instead of the state school I call my alma mater? Should Roy and I have opted for a trip to Europe before trying for a baby? Should I have pursued my dreams more aggressively instead of waiting tables and working in an office? I feel like I've played it safe my whole life, and I am continuing to play it safe by doing exactly what I should be doing: being married, having a kid, etc. I can't escape the feeling that I am a fucking stereotype - when truly all I wanted was to be special. I have always had fantasies about winning a Pulitzer or producing a masterpiece of a poem. I feel all of this is slipping away...

The fact of the matter is (and this is something I have to keep reminding myself) being married and having kids doesn't mean that I am a stereotype. It means that I was lucky enough to find someone I love more than anyone else in the world, marry him, and then have a baby with him! It doesn't mean that I am a sellout. It doesn't mean that I have to give up my own personal dreams. It may be harder to find the time for myself, but I can still make it happen. I could still go to a prestigious college if I wanted to (no thank you, I am pretty sick of academic types); Roy and I could still go to Europe (and even take Charlie along); and I could still produce some genius work of poetry (well, maybe not genius...). The point is my life is not over. I know this. But emotionally I don't think I really understand this yet.

But I am trying. Holy hell, how I am trying. And as I try, there's a little guy squirming around in my tummy and a bigger guy sitting beside me on our bed, and frankly, I've never felt so lucky or so full of love. I could travel the world ten times over, write a body of work worthy of winning the Nobel Prize, and attend Harvard or Yale - but none of it means anything without my guys. These changes, they're bittersweet, and I'm not always good at coping with what's to come. But I know I will, because I already have everything I could possibly want - and everything I ever hoped for.


phairhead said...

for me it was boxes of scalloped potatoes and Cape Codders. there was something liberating about not giving a fuck.

i can wholly empathise w/ never sleepign w/ another man. i have no desire to do so but it's something that will never happen again.

Leslie, be kind to yrself. Yr not going to lose yr identity because of Charlie.

inflammatory writ said...

I feel like I could write this entry now, except for the fact that I'm not pregnant. Especially "Should I have pursued my dreams more aggressively instead of waiting tables and working in an office? I feel like I've played it safe my whole life, and I am continuing to play it safe...".

I wonder about that all the time.

Erika said...

I have had simelier reactions about getting married......that's probably why I had a bald

Anywhoo, let those feelings out, write about it, go ahead and is so perfectly normal to have all these feelings. I have had these feelings about losing my identity, being a good wife etc....I STILL DO even after almost two years!!

As long as deep down you know for a fact that you are so very lucky to have what you want. because if you bottle up those is going to get worse you know??

Enjoy this time alone to reflect and grieve.....

So grieve away.....and then forgetaboutit!!......:)

Angie Eats Peace said...

Never having been in your position, I really do not have any good feedback for you.

I just want to say thank-you for your candid honesty. I think it gives a more accurate depiction of the internal struggles that pregnancy can provoke. It is refreshing and more realistic than the overly-romanticized, rose-tinted lense perspective.

Anonymous said...

I think about these things all the time, well, except for the having a baby part. Its so strange to think that you're becoming an "adult" when you don't even know what that means for yourself.

amber said...

As an outsider, I definitely don't think life ends when you have kids. But, I think I would be having similar anxious feelings if I were in your shoes. Hang in there - Charlie will be worth it. :)