Thursday, June 17th, 2010
I’m taking Fia to the Natural History Museum this week. My mom friends and I feel like getting out of Brooklyn for the day. There’s an exhibit there: Race to the End of the Earth. It’s about two explorers who in 1911 went to the South Pole and back. It was an 1,800-mile journey where their endurance and survival skills were up against not only extreme weather and insane logistics, but also THE UNKNOWN. I figure after seeing it, any challenges of motherhood will be put into perspective.
But here’s another little secret: I wanted to go to the Museum—and have for some time. I’ve been a freelancer for years. Every day and week was different. Before I had Fia, I wouldn’t give myself the permission to “indulge.” Rather, I’d sit at my computer and force myself to do something, anything. I had to be productive. And if I couldn’t, well, then I’d do things like train for marathons. Climb mountains. Or, say, go to Timbuktu.
But now I’ve realized something that I hesitate to even share because a) I might feel totally different tomorrow, if Fia has a meltdown and b) I don’t want my husband to see this because then all my whining is negated. At the risk of both, here it goes:
If you don’t have to work full time, once you get through those first really hard months with a newborn, it’s kind of, in a small way, like being on vacation. Dear Lord, I said it. I’m ducking under my table right now, cringing at my very words. Let me rephrase: when your baby is 10 months old, like Fi, you can start to entertain yourself and your baby simultaneously. You can do things normally reserved for a weekend—or vacation. (There’s that bad word again).
Having placed so much of my own self worth on career, it was hard for me to go with the flow without a goal at the end. I mean, the other day, I was playing on the floor with Fia, watching Oprah. Halfway through the episode, I put her down for a nap and thought, I better turn off the TV and DO something productive. I can’t just lay here and watch….can I? Well, maybe just a little… And finally, SCREW IT, I’M FINISHING THE EPISODE. (Dare I say I watched another one after?)
Granted, I am a little type-A, so many of you may have been born with the ability to write yourself a permission slip. For me, this is an awakening. Fia has accomplished what no therapist or yogi could: she has, without even knowing it, given me ability to live life in the moment—and make that moment whatever I want it to be, i.e.: Oprah, museums, etc. She is allowing me to enjoy aspects of life without degrees, accolades or medals attached. She has quieted my monkey mind. And, in many ways, transformed me, by completing me.
I know this is a finite time. When she starts to walk—or run—a trip to a museum in Manhattan may require Advil (for me) and a leash (for her). And when she goes off to nursery school and beyond, I’ll have chunks of time to fret and worry about furthering my career and not falling behind in the world. But right now, by fulfilling myself, I feel I am fulfilling her. By opening my eyes, I’m opening hers. Those explorers didn’t know what they would find on the other side. I don’t know either. But for right now, I’m completely living in the moment.