Yesterday Noah, Rosie and I took a short afternoon stroll to get out of the house and to fill thirty of the 90 jiznillion minutes we have at our disposal every single day. Rosie was riding in style in her hot pink stroller as Noah alternated between lagging behind to balance heel to toe on the curb and racing ahead of us, hair parted down the middle by the wind. We turned up the hill by our house and followed the road to a street in our neighborhood whose dead end is separated from a busy highway by only a few yards of trees. “Mama, I hear the cars!” Noah said, skipping ahead.
The cars were loud, but the street, being a dead end, was quiet. No one was out in their yard, no one drove by. And I was struck then by the fact that it felt like I was walking down a metaphor for the way I’ve been feeling about life lately. I wouldn’t call what I’m doing a dead end by any means, but the sense of having nowhere to go is real and constant. Every day I’m home with the kids I hear those cars in the distance. And I imagine the people in them, headed to meetings, to appointments, to jobs, to social scenes. They are strategizing, moving, creating, important.
And I am in my house. Folding towels. Changing diapers. Cutting up hot dogs. Sweeping the floor.
Now I’ll just take a break and serve up the big fat I Know What You’re Going To Say sandwich: what I do is important. Raising small people is valuable work. Half those cars I hear are filled with people going to clean prison toilets with toothbrushes. Etc. I am aware of all these things and more.
But sometimes it’s hard not to feel like life is happening without me.
And to prove I did, in fact, receive a PhD in Hypocrisy, you might recall that I’ve said several times that the reason I left medical school was so that this life I’m living now wouldn’t happen without me.
Oh you double-edged sword. Fuck off.
Summertime has notoriously put this feeling into stark relief for me, since that is the time I am home all day with Noah, and now this year, with Noah and Rosie. And this week has been easier than most, being the week right after a long vacation. It took me four and a half years, but I finally figured out that making a schedule (like actually writing one down on paper) for each day not only makes the day go easier for Noah, but also for me. I’ve actually accomplished a few things. Packed some boxes. Cooked dinner every night. Established a good nap schedule for Rosie. Etc, etc., etc. Actually, one of the best things that has come out of this week is the discovery that if I feed Rosie exclusively from a bottle, it cuts the amount of swearing I have to stop myself from doing down to about an eighth of the previous amount. So profoundly has this changed my relationship with her that I wish I could go back three months, hand my three-month-ago self a bottle, slap myself in the face and say “Put that boob away, you moron.” It is that much better between us.
But the fact that I still feel this stuck feeling in the midst of so much stay-at-home success is shining a thousand watt bulb into my soul and making me ask myself What’s next? Because I am feeling very acutely that there is Something That Is Next. And it’s ok with me if my car has a back seat full of car seats.
I just need some open road.