Simon and Garfunkel sang that, didn’t they? Before the crazy version, there was being stuck between a rock and a sheer-faced cliff? Thought so.
Since the inception of this blog, I have wrestled publicly with the dilemma that I love my child and rather dislike parenting. Love, love, love the kid. Don’t get me wrong or send angry emails. Love the child. Dislike the job. It’s not a popular riff, and it’s not often said, so I feel like I’m talking to a (rather horrified) brick wall when I explain to people who ask, that I’m experiencing a range of emotions about being a breeder (ooops, there’s my problem right there, because Americans know the correct answers are “Fine” to “How are you?” and “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done” to “How do you like being a Mom?” regardless of how you feel. But I always forget that social rule and actually hear, process, and answer questions as they’re posed. Silly, poorly socialized me.)
So when someone the other day asked if I was excited about the new baby, my initial response was typical for me, caught between the headlights of social expectations and my still unabashed tendency toward truth:
Blink. Blink. Blink.
Don’t make me say the obvious:
of course… yes and no… sort of… I think so… absolutely…blink blink blink. Here’s the thing, at least for me. The dive into parenthood, at least the first time, is like asking a solitary, heliophilic (lover of sunshine, not bleeder, though that might work, too), claustrophic acrophobe (nasty fear of heights…bear with me) to live the remainder of their life as a bat.
YES, there are beautiful sights to take in while you’re flying. Glorious smells and sounds and vistas unknown to humans. At…uhem…night. In the sky. Kind of high. Admittedly, there is awesome fruit to be had. A thousand times, yes, I love mangoes. Back at home, though, my small, cramped cave is filled with lots of smelly others who insist I hang upside down from the ceiling and avoid the sun. So admitting having mixed feelings seems less revolutionary than honest and, well, mandatory.
The whole foreign country/alien planet thing I’ve heard from other moms about the upending shock of plunging from independence and coherence into the unblinking and rapid-fire world of parenting implies that the surroundings have changed. Nay. Same place. I’m just living upside down. At night. By new rules with new people whom I simply don’t get. Their way is totally right for them, and it makes sense, and it’s quite lovely. But it’s godawful uncomfortable for me.
And the thought of doing it again really, really soon means less shock and more…upside down, claustrophobic, ceiling-clinging, guano-filled days. I know where to find the fun, but I don’t know how to escape when the not-so-fun threatens to overwhelm. Because you know what? (And I risk being a bit overdramatic here, but I defy you to prove me wrong….) there is no escape.
[Maybe that’s why our culture makes such a big deal about bats. It’s not the three out of, like 400 species of otherwise frugivorous bats who drink blood. It’s the fact that we know, deep down, that I’m totally awesome at similies and metaphors, and that a lot of us are living, at once by choice and against our will, in caves filled with other upside down mammals.]
So I’m learning and I’m flying and I’m having copious amounts of fun. But home isn’t home…it’s claustrophobic and smelly. And going outside is different and new and overwhelming. That sense of displacement, of not just where did I go? but where did the world go? is a little disconcerting.
Once or twice. AND twice.
Consider that next time I just stare at you and blink blink. Blink.