The Intrepid Explorer

Golden Boy has started cruising. If this conjures up images of him cruising with his homies in an approximation of a scene from ‘Pimp My Ride’, I assure you it is nothing remotely like that. Rather, he is making his first tentative steps at navigating his way across any room using the furniture to forge a route and leaving a trail of destruction in his wake.

I am thrilled at his newfound foray into the realm of independence; not least because of the sigh of relief my back is breathing at not having to heave his almost twelve month’s of body weight around in his every waking hour. This is offset slightly by the extra hours spent hunched over retrieving toys and other paraphernalia from nooks and crannies in the house I was previously unaware existed.

Secretly and shamefully, however, I am somewhat wistful for my baby boy. As he takes each more confident step away from me, I feel increasingly redundant. Soon (well, probably not that soon given he is yet to turn one) I will be a discarded crutch with about as much remaining use as firewood.

There are days where, though I never resent my children, I resent the drudgery that now consumes my life as a result of choosing to have children. That is, until my ingratitude slaps me in the face and thoughts of the friend with two failed rounds of IVF under her belt drown me with guilt.

It strikes me that being a mother is a bit Dr Jekyll/ Mr Hyde – we can’t stand the relentless requests and being on call 24/7, tethered by the ball and chain of our children. Yet equally unbearable is the thought of becoming surplus to their requirements. It’s like the proverbial rock and hard place and I am officially stuck.

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My drug of choice

Key ingredients of one portion of redundancy, mixed with several large handfuls of rejection, plus lashings of alone time to stew over personal shortcomings and failures, can be the recipe to only one dish: depression.

I have the urge to take up drinking, drugs or some other equally shamefully self-destructive vice, to ease this gulf of loneliness that threatens to swallow me whole.

I long to forget who I was and who I’ve become. Sadly I’ve already forgotten who I really am. I am goalless, worthless, pointless and soulless – a walking shell of an existence. How easy it is for the memory to dissipate – the feelings of a life half full, limited by a boundless horizon. Now there is only a barren brick wall – endlessly wide and terminally tall.

Obviously all my days aren’t plagued by this maudlin moroseness – because surely I’d have taken a fast track to purgatory (or some equivalent place for wandering spirits of the dead) if they were. But today I feel lost. And unfathomably sad.

I suspect, until my life regains more purpose, that I will always be at risk of a relapse into this dreaded zone of despair and desperation. And I sense the tut tuts pounding at my blog door already dishing out their disapproval that motherhood should be sufficient in itself as a standalone purpose. But tut all you want; for me it just isn’t.

But tomorrow is another day and until then there’s always the option of drugs or drink – or for wimps like me bound by the shackles of parental responsibility, more likely a slab of Green and Blacks’ finest.

World’s worst mother

If Baby-Bel kept a diary, the entry today would no doubt read ‘Worst day of my little life’. And not in a ‘teenage angst, every day is the worst day of my life, the world and its dog is knitting a conspiracy theory against me’, sort of way but genuinely so.

It all started fairly innocuously. An event-free trip to the supermarket where Baby-Bel screamed vociferously when the time came to pay for my shopping and I had to forcefully remove a red pepper from her vice-like grip – mortifying yes yet, unfortunately, fairly mundane. A stroll to Starbucks where she insisted on pilfering a collection of their straws and cup lids – I wondered at which point they would begin charging for them as ‘extras’ like a shot of espresso or flavoured syrup.

Despite having thought about little else all weekend, I had ironically forgotten that Baby-Bel was booked in for her MMR in the afternoon. I have been plagued by paranoia after a mummy friend sparked concerns over its links with autism, stoking the irrational and usually dormant side of my personality. To be fair, it reared its ugly head last week too when I was convinced she was suffering from a bout of swine flu – Mr A naturally, and rationally, told me I was being crazy in as nice a way as possible but I assure you this is the sort of behaviour that comes from too long without the sanity gleaned from gainful employment and regular daytime adult interaction.

I think it’s fair to say the nurse actually mocked me when I voiced my concerns. Feeling small, rather stupid and still nerves a jangle, I distracted a suspicious-looking Baby-Bel from the proceedings ahead. She flailed and screamed with a might that belied her size. I suddenly felt nauseous and was actually sweating, with anxiety as well as the exertion requeired to restrain her – about the same level of perspiration brought on by a gentle warm up jog. With each scream I wanted to join in with a chorus line.

And then came jab number two. I doubt Baby-Bel will ever be trustful of me again. But at least we could go home now and resume our normal tear-free day.

Not so. While complacently basking in my success at distracting her from the memory of wrestling with pointy needles, I took my eye off the ball. Tottering around in the ungainly gait which she is currently wont, she stumbled and fell face first, splitting her top lip on her front teeth. The fault rests rigidly with me (I should and could have pre empted it with all that supposed maternal instinct right?). More unforgiveable is that, in the interim between her immediately beginning to cry and my discovery of her mouth full of blood, my initial assumption was she was just being a drama queen. I’m a terrible, undeserving mother – worse than Cinderella’s non-bio version. I half expect the door bell to ring and child services to serve me a warrant.

So now she looks like a victim of botched botox. She keeps pressing her lips together in a soundless ‘ma ma ma’ sound – presumably because the fat lip feels alien. Either that or she is miming her silent accusations in my direction.

As if it is insufficient to undergo the self flagellation of my own torturous guilt, I am also dreading the recriminations from Mr A when he returns and sees The Lip in all its purple inflated glory. Well, if it had happened while under his sole supervision, I know at whose door I would be laying the blame – and with all the combined weight of a stack of Yellow Pages at that. While drying her hair after her bath I wonder how best to style it so as to hide the evidence of the afternoon’s incriminations – how about all brushed forward to cover her entire face, in a warped interpretation of a comb-over? That should about do the job.

But I know I am unfairly tarnishing Mr A with my small-minded brush. He will tell me that accidents happen, especially when wobbly legged toddlers are involved and that I am in no way to blame. Still, I can’t help but think a better mother wouldn’t have to spend the next week staring at the error of her ways as punishment for her misdemeanour. Life might be full of sharp edges but none sharper than the pang of guilt.