The unromantic moments of new motherhood…

Yesterday, Finn and I had a bad time together.  We’ve had many cranky hours — but this was a crazy, never-ending day, and all I wanted at the time was a break longer than a few minutes.  By the time Keith got home at nearly 5:30 (having left before 7am), I thought I was going to cry, scream, drop.  I couldn’t help but think of lines from Rachel Cusk’s frank, unconventional, and stunningly-crafted book, A Life’s Work, which a close friend loaned me recently.  Cusk describes a particularly difficult and conflicting day she experienced with her new daughter:

“Her eyelids begin to droop.  The sight of them reminds me of the possibility that she might go to sleep and stay that way for two or three hours.  She has done this before.  The prospect is exciting, for it is when the baby sleeps that I liaise, as if it were a lover, with my former life.  These liaisons, though always thrilling, are often frantic.  I dash about the house unable to decide what to do: to read, to work to telephone my friends.  Sometimes these pleasures elude me and I end up gloomily cleaning the house, or standing in front of the mirror striving to recognise myself.  Sometimes I miss the baby and lie beside her crib while she sleeps.  Sometimes I manage to read, or work, or talk, and am enjoying it when she wakes up and cries; and then the pain of moving from one life to the other is acute.  Nevertheless, watching her eyelids droop, my excitement at the prospect of freedom buzzes about my veins.  I begin manically to list and consider things I might do, discarding some ideas, cherishing others.  Her eyelids droop again and close altogether.  In repose her face is as delicate, as tranquil as a shell.  As I look, an alarming colour spreads rapidly over it.  The skin darkens, promising storms.  Her eyes flip open, her body writhes, her small mouth opens like a yawning abyss of grief and pain.  She roars.  She bellows.  She cries out in anger, agony, terror.  I feel as if I have been discovered in some terrible infidelity.”


One thought on “The unromantic moments of new motherhood…

  1. I’m thrilled to read your articulations on the paradigm shift that occurs in a woman’s life once the hatchling hatches. The focus becomes clear when reality unveils herself in full regalia, when the concealed becomes an epiphany, when the contained becomes ubiquitous, when the delivered paradoxically becomes the despot.

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