Tuesday, October 30, 2012

On Showers, and the Loss of This and Other Things


I get home from work today, and the house is dark, empty, quiet. While not an altogether rare occurrence  it nonetheless is not the norm, and after going over the mail and checking my work email one last time, I do that which I relish but cannot indulge in too much any more: I jump in the shower.

A lifetime ago, before motherhood, it was my habit to get home from work and within 15 minutes be in the shower. It relaxed me; it helped me wash the workday off and allowed me to settle into my evening in a good (or at least better) mood. 

And then my boy came along, and hell, showering at any point in the day became a challenge. Early on, I felt so drenched in milk after nights of constant breastfeeding that I'd need to jump in the shower by about 9 a.m. I'd put him in his baby papasan chair, take him into the bathroom, and shower and watch him at the same time. 

At some point, a new routine developed, and I started showering late at night, after Max had fallen sleep and after I'd woken up from the inevitable passing out that would happen when I put him to sleep. Maybe I had to get home from work and pick right up on dinner and childcare, but I'd be damned if I was going to go to bed without being able to get the ick of the day off me. 

Even with Max spending almost half his time with his dad, the habit has stuck because I get home and have to get on with dinner and the chores I tend to neglect when he is with me. If not, I'm just so exhausted that I prefer to sit and numb out for a short while before getting up and starting all over again.

But today, I got home a good 10 minutes before I usually do, and I knew there were leftovers in the fridge. And I was achy and feeling icky and thought, man, a shower is just what I need. And it was. As usual, I had 15-20 minuted to decompress, to run through some thoughts, to create that separation from work and home. 

As I wrapped the shower up, my thoughts turned to all that I've written here - how it used to be like this all the time, how motherhood changed that, how I've pretty much maintained the habit even when he's not with me, how very much I prefer it this way, how nice it is that I do get to enjoy it from time to time. 

And then, a new thought creeped in: I will soon lose this all over again. I will soon be back to showering whenever it makes most sense to do so, between nursing and holding and putting to sleep (and cooking and cleaning and managing routines). This thought pops up quite a bit now, every time I'm enjoying something and I feel aware that said thing is allowed now that my son is older. Immediately after that thought, I realize, over and over again: I'm going to lose this. Maybe just for a few years, but I'm losing it. I will again be at the mercy of a life too tiny and vulnerable to do anything without me. I hope to carry the lessons learned with my first and avoid some mistakes, but in many ways, I will again choose to make things harder for myself so that he may feel from the start that I am present and responsive and care more to hold him and play with him and comfort him than I do "training" him to live by what's comfortable for me. I will make choices that are inconvenient for me but which I know are best for him. 

And in so doing, I will again feel the loss of a certain part of myself, feel the consequences of my choices, feel exhausted and defeated when the day's been long and it's late at night and he still is not sleeping and wanting boob boob boob and I'm in a ratty nightgown and hungry and unshowered. I will question my choices and have mini-crises about how much milk I'm pumping, how this child and this experience are changing me, about how I still want to and need to be me and am not sure how to keep all these fragmented mes whole. 

It will be like this and it will be hard. But it will be right. I know this not just by the feeling in my gut, but by that seven-year-old of mine who is happy and well-adjusted and utterly secure in my love and our relationship. If I can give his brother the same kind of love and attention and nurturing, and have him grow up as well-adjusted as Max, then what's a shower or 100? One day I'll get to enjoy one again.

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Posted by Tere @ 10/30/2012   | |

3 Comments

  • Blogger Mary Gilmour posted at 10/31/2012 12:15 PM  
    I wonder if it makes the whole raising the infant thing easier to know you have chosen it. I think that what made the difference for me with my second was that at the worst moments I could tell myself, as you are telling yourself, that I had done this once before with success.
    Not much comfort at 2:00 am, but some.
    And, you have two guys in the house who can cast an eye over the infant while you shower.
  • Anonymous Noor posted at 11/09/2012 6:04 PM  
    I can really relate to your thoughts. I often reflect on my time with my one year old daughter from a detached lens. I left home at 18 and flew across a world. I only realize now how hard it must have been for my mom to let me go. Time flies and if you raise a well-adjusted child who has the independence to go out in the world and find his own destiny, then you have done something right. And you can always enjoy a shower when they go off to college, right? :) Good luck.
  • Anonymous Anonymous posted at 11/11/2012 9:21 AM  
    It is easy to comment to make child a good person to the world.But A mom only really knows how difficult it is.
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