*This is one of a handful of pieces that i wrote many, many months ago (in 2012) and am only now getting to edit and publish. If you subscribe to my blog i apologize that a few emails may come in back to back. I’m trying to settle up with 2012 pieces and catch up with myself a little bit. Is it just me or do you too often feel like your life is a high speed train that you are constantly trying to catch up with? So anywho, these “vintage” reflections are a bit nonconsecutive in the scheme of my life, but may they be relevant to someone somewhere!
When my husband and i began to dream up the family we planned on creating, i always imagined that his involvement would somehow be equal to mine. Strangely it never occurred to me, not in my fantasy at least, that someone would have to be bringing home the bacon! I had dreams of waking up together in our big family bed and of sharing all the responsibilities of caring for our child together. Of course this is most unrealistic and i only realized that i held this delusional fantasy as it was being dispelled. When our life as a family began in reality, there was a small part of me that was disillusioned with my husbands natural absence. To be fair, his absence was greater then the average Joe’s who works predictable hours and gets weekends off. When Veda was just a couple of weeks old my husband was steadily swept out of our nest with one assignment after the next. Meanwhile, all he or i wanted was to be home together as a family. My disappointment was not at all with him of course. I was never mad at him, merely disappointed with our circumstances, and surprised to see my unconscious fantasy exposed and dispelled before my very tired eyes. As i moved through many long days with a beautiful and tireless infant all by myself, a breeze of sadness would sometimes brush me.
My husband doesn’t work a preditable 9-5 job with weekends off. There are days when he works very late and doesn’t get in bed until 3am, or he travels for days at a time. He works for himself, which is probably where this fantasy of freedom i had came from, but the nature of his business actually gives him more “bosses” to please and more deadlines to meet, as he works for several companies or publications all at the same time. Opportunities often arise with short notice, and weekends full of family-promise can sometimes end up getting buried over with work. It’s been a tremendous blessing to have this abundant flow of work coming in to shower our growing family and help satisfy our lofty dreams, but it’s also been hard at times to be separated so much during this delicate and magical (and exhausting) time in our lives. Plus without family near by, the whole village concept is a far off dream and i spent a lot of the first six months in my nuclear family isolation booth. Don’t get me wrong, i love few things more then being home with my babe day in and day out. I have a classic and wonderful case of stockholm syndrome. I love my tiny hostage-taker and am satisfied with our contained life. i just missed my partner in crime.
With him working 10-16 hour days and me at home with a baby by myself all day long (and all night too), we have at times felt really adrift from each other. It’s a pretty cliche scenario. But as it turns out, though some days our lives seemed so far apart, we were actually in a very similar boat! Just not the same boat. We were/are both currently operating as a life raft for others, each in our own way. He is carrying all of us financially and i am carrying Veda in every way and keeping the house up and running. We may not be in the same boat, but we’re like two temporary life rafts floating side by side. At first, without this greater understanding (as its sometimes hard to grasp what is happening when you’re really in the midst of it) it felt lonely, draining, and disappointing for each of us. I was left feeling alone as a parent burdened with the task of nourishing, soothing and entertaining our baby, and taking in a lot of new information on this journey without my partner to bounce off of. Meanwhile, he was feeling overwhelmed and alone too. He was constantly being pulled away from his two loves, torn from the family bed in the wee hours only to watch Veda and i snuggled up peacefully together. He was desperately missing the physical intimacy between us (i was out of commission in that dept. for about 7-8 months), and he was having to hustle in the work world when all he wanted to do was relax into his new family. But after months of mutual hustling, coming to terms with circumstance and having lots of gratitude for our apparent and countless blessings, we realized that we are actually not alone or adrift. We have merely had to divide in order to conquer.
We are accomplishing big tasks and it takes two, (at least)! We can’t always be doing it all together, and sometimes we have to go for bits of time apart, but that’s okay. With this understanding i am able to better appreciate the distant days more. It is beautiful, at times overwhelming, sometimes even lonely, but also intensely cataclysmic. Magic is happening with his career, our family is growing, our relationship is being stretched and deepened, we’re planning a cross country move and seeding new dreams for our future. Even though my partner isn’t always right there with me in the same exact boat, we are a team floating side by side heading towards the same shore.
In honor of the great man floating alongside me, the father of my baby and the key to my heart, i dedicate this post and this song to him: http://ianbritt.bandcamp.com/track/the-shape-of-us
In our society, many of us aren’t so lucky to live in a tight knit community. After a few stressful months i realized that i would have to artificially construct a village around me in order to at least temporarily get the support that every mother needs. I realized also that what i really needed was the support of others mothers! At about 7 months Veda seemed ready for some more socializing and we began a weekly play group. That was awesome for me! Revelatory, even. Then at 8 months she began to open further to others and i could tell that if done gently, i may even be able to hire a “mother’s helper” to help me a few mornings a week. It took a couple of months to find the right person, and then almost a month to gently transition V to being with her, but it has worked out beautifully for us thus far. No tears 😉 And all of this support has filled in for where the village would otherwise be and has helped a hard working mama get a dash of help and connection!