“I can’t wait for you and Steve to experience parenthood,” my sister Rachel said a few months ago. “It’s such a hard feeling to describe, and I’m hoping the two of you, being writers, will be able to put it into words.”
At the time, Rachel’s comment seemed like part compliment and part assignment. I was flattered, and I thought I’d have no end of words to share to describe motherhood. In fact, I looked forward to talking about, and writing down, my feelings on being a mom.
Like so many things in my life B.C. (Before Children), I was wrong. Well, not wrong, just wholely unprepared. It turns out I had no idea how to describe what this feels like, until today. Marisen’s a month old now, and I have learned many tricks for moving through a day at home with her, one of which is to cuddle her in one arm and answer email or sort laundry or brush my teeth with the other hand.
I laughed when I realized that “Typing One-Handed” is the perfect progression for my musings on motherhood…from “Becoming Left-Handed” as a bride to “Becoming Write-Handed” as a very amateur writer to this, the ultimate juggling act, the most important feat of balance and dexterity, the most challenging test of one’s ability to live two lives at one time.
That’s what it feels like. It feels like I am now split in two, with my attention and brainpower and heart and soul divided so they can be shared with this tiny little girl. She is like a solar system unto herself and I revolve around her, even when I am trying to function like a normal adult individual. I feel like I now do everything one-handed, and everything in my life that is not Marisen gets just part of me.
We’ve done some “normal” things since she was born, like going out to dinner, to a party, to the mall, to the annual Tour of Homes. It’s just that now, it’s anything but normal. Or maybe I’m anything but normal.
Ordering dinner? Trying to do it while wondering if Marisen likes garlic. Buying a birthday gift? Shopping with the car seat over one arm, the diaper bag over the other, and wondering if I should sign Marisen’s name to the card. Reading a magazine? Listening for her breath, or a sweet little baby sound from Marisen’s bassinet. Talking to a friend? Attempting to keep up with the conversation while I worry that Marisen’s getting too warm in the stroller. Relaxing? Watching the clock, timing Marisen’s feedings, wondering when she’ll wake up hungry. Watching TV? Interrupting every commercial to brag about Marisen gaining weight or smiling or sleeping four hours.
Holding my daughter? Feeling like both my hands are full, both my “selves” become one again, and I breathe in a profound sense of wholeness to have my family in my arms.