Over the last three years since I had my daughter, I’ve grown a keen interest in finding out who my mother(s) really were, before. What the hell happened along the way, and are they happy now, truly, despite their ungrateful oblivious children? What were they like before their identities were overwritten, before they lost their sense of humor in the mind-numbing grind of making a family go? Sad to think now that Penny might one day believe as I did, that your mother was just born disappointed and frustrated.

After the first year, when the initial shock started to wear off, I figured out how to exist as a nearly functional (sleep-deprived) adult again; making showers and meals happen for myself with some regularity. Once I got my head above water again, I found myself grasping for a new identity – I started to emulate my mothers, inexplicably, like dreaming in Spanish when in Indonesia because that was the only foreign language I sort-of knew and reached for it –  like  I reached for them; for all the programing I didn’t know had been going on over the years.

It truly felt like playing house at first. I diligently studied up on how to make a green-bean casserole. Amy gave me her meat-loaf recipe (twice) over the phone. I can now make the Fannie Farmer (Low Fat) oven-baked chicken by heart. I emailed my mother-in-law to get her chilled peanut-butter ball recipe because Mike sort of has a thing for peanut-butter. I started putting moisturizing cream on my neck and hands at night and clipping coupons. I felt it happening, my becoming, and not in a good way. But I was coping, going through the motions while I was grieving my old self. I find myself saying things like “you’ve loaded this dishwasher completely inneficiently!” and really felt that bent out of shape about it. I get mad sometimes that Mike isn’t playing by the playing house rules that I know.

About six months ago, something shifted. I started giving myself permission to do more and sometimes less than just the have-to’s. I feel like I just got good at this, like it just got easy. like I found some me in there that I liked once I figured out the outer workings of them.

Leaving out the boring details of the morning and evening hustle and bustle routines….This has been the rhythm of my life of late:

Mondays: grociery shopping, laundry, other errands

Tuesdays: NO housework allowed, get in the studio

Wednesdays: playdate in the am (unless I have a design student), paid projects in the afternoon

Thursdays: resolve the unfinished freelance stuff, do something frivolous like take a nap or watch a movie if I get done early.

Fridays: Mom/daughter day, playdate in the AM, housework in the afternoon, nap together.

Saturdays: My sleep-in day, sometimes work-out, sometimes join Mike and Penny at the coffee shop – carefully avoid the Saturday-syndrome of colliding agendas. I nap with Penny while Mike has band practice.

Sundays: Mike’s sleep-in day (I’m still lousy at this – I usualy stick a movie in for Penny and try to squeeze in a little more sleep – it never works out and Mike wakes up grumpy), family day, make the house nice for a new week, fancy dinner prep.

Repeat.

Right before I had Penny, I remembered thinking, I just got good at being pregnant, why wasn’t I reading up on how to be a parent this whole time? I start back at my old job tomorrow, 30 hours a week. I don’t know how this new-old hat will fit. I’m a little sad, a little excited, a lot anxious..  I feel like I’m coming down to reality now – that up until now, I’ve been getting away with something the modern woman doesn’t often get permission to deserve – permission to raise your child and find out who you are.  I shouldn’t be so dramatic. “it’s not a life sentence” as Mike says, it could only be three months, really there are no guarantees. I know I can make this hat fit too. When once I complained about the housework drudgery and Penny dragging on my leg, next week I’ll bemoan that I can’t just drop everthing and take a nap with a sweaty-head toddler. Am I so perpetually discontent or will I get better at change? I guess that’s the spice of life. You never really arrive and you’re always sort of getting there. Always becoming.

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