Monday, January 07, 2008

Contradictions of motherhood

I haven’t posted in a while because… well, because I’m tired. Really tired. Working mother of twins tired. Chasing two toddlers who run in opposite directions tired. Haven’t slept through the night more than a handful of times in 14 months tired. Two kids with stomach flu and then stomach flu myself tired. Single-parenting for the next 10 days while my husband travels to promote his new book tired. T-I-R-E-D.

But enough of the whining. It’s just been a rough couple of weeks, in which I’m reminded again of the deep contradictions of motherhood. On the one hand, I find myself utterly captivated by my kids and the things they do (highlight of last week: my daughter’s first sort of sentence, a brilliant post-diaper change commentary: “No poo poo… pee pee!”). I still find it hard to be apart from them on the three weekdays I’m at work. Often, in the late afternoon, as I’m wrapping up at the office, I’ll feel this stabbing pang as I realize that the babies have had a whole day of life without me. I’ve missed it.

And for some reason, I can’t bring myself to hire a babysitter to stay with them for one evening so that my husband and I could go out to dinner. Theoretically, I absolutely believe in the importance of couples prioritizing some alone time. And it’s not like I’ve never left the kids before – they are with a nanny three days each week and they love her and are fine without us. But I just can’t seem to leave them in the evening, even though they would probably sleep through it. To the utter bafflement of my husband and most of my friends and family, I just can’t do it.

But then there is the other part of the equation – the part of me that is flooded with relief when they go to sleep and I can sit down and breathe, eat, read the paper. The part that passes the bookstore on the way home and remembers what it was like to just wander in on a whim and spend 45 minutes browsing, no particular place to be. The part that watched them playing at 6 am the other morning and had the slightly panic-stricken realization “OMG! They are going to be here every morning for the next SEVENTEEN YEARS!”

I realize these mood swings could probably be eased by a few nights off and yet… See above re: inability to leave babies with a babysitter in the evening. I’m not sure how to make sense of it all. So I’m left with one of the defining features of motherhood: a powerful blend of emotions, sweet and bittersweet melting together, resoundingly alive.

1 comment:

Ima Shalom said...

Those hours after they go to sleep are so important. When I don't get that time I really feel off-kilter. But I must say, as someone who waited 9 months to go out without my it. So good for your marriage, your sanity, and your friendships. Once you go ahead and do it once it'll become easier, and maybe even FUN.