I lie flanked by the twin pillars of my husband and daughter, alike in their ability to slumber in bliss.
Not so me. The heat is keeping me up and the relentless moonlight.
I long for a big window to dangle my feet from, or the eucalyptus tree from my childhood, the platform for my loftiest prayers.
But here I am, in Cambridge, swathed in another chapter of my life, deep in the heart of my little family. I can’t venture very far away because, you see, they need me.
I am more real somehow here in this moment of life than I have ever been. I find myself washed up on the shores of motherhood, and it's already something that I love, that I am good at. I delight in being the lynch pin, yet sometimes my very indispensability is overwhelming.
She is four months old now, and my own eyes surprise me, as they look intently back at me from her little face, following me as I busy around a room. Often I am awarded a gummy smile and her Dad's ears lend her a slightly pixieish air. She is becoming more herself everyday, spending her time working it all out, rolling over and fighting with her pet squid, sometimes all at once. She has an easy-going nature and seems content enough to be carted along wherever we are going; as long as we remain the constant in her little world she is happy.
Motherhood is all humbling, all consuming, I think of the day she was born frequently, I had hoped to be 'over it' by now (whatever that means!) but I'm not, I keep revisiting the 12th April over and over again in my mind, the pain and the joy, the before and after. I think it's because of the transformative nature of her birth. It was the day that I became someone the same but also very different.
I've wanted to write for a while now but everything is a bit fuzzy round the edges and not an awful lot of coherence is emerging from it all. It vaguely worries me but then I remember that this is a season and it too shall pass. Being a mother is both transformative and permanent yet mothering a small baby is a wonderful, hard and temporary state.
One day she will no longer need me like this and I confess that I'm terribly afraid that when that happens I will discover that I am the one who has been hooked from the off. She might not need me but I desperately need her.
So for now I remain a mess of contradictions, the desire to be by myself again is measured against the need to always be near her.
I will finish with some thoughts on early parenthood from Laurie Lee from his essay. 'The Firstborn'
‘I have got a daughter whose life is already separate from mine, whose will already follows its own directions, and who has quickly corrected my wooly preconceptions of her by being remorselessly different. She is the child of herself and she will be who she is. I am merely the keeper of her temporary helplessness…’
‘I hope she’ll be free. I want her to be free from fear to enquire and get answers, free to imagine and tell tales, free to be curious and show enthusiasm…if she’s a success I’ll be pleased but I’ll not care if she isn’t, may spontaneity and warmth be her main achievements.’
Laurie Lee ‘The Firstborn’ various excerpts