August 27, 2008

Blue Yonder woke up with a dream that made her sad, she couldn't quite remember, then remembered as she held her youngest son. She dreamed about her babies. Her babies all gone. And in the funny parallel universe of this blog world, her essay sparked me to remember one of my dreams last night.

I was holding Ry's baby doll. Her name is Jenna. She has been Ry's baby, and her only baby, since Ry was two years old. Jenna is part of our family. And for some reason last night in dream land, I was carrying baby Jenna around on my shoulder. I was holding her and I felt her incarnate and get warm and wonderfully solid. I turned my cheek and pressed it into her face, on my shoulder, as I squeezed her body, her little forearm taken completely up in my hand. She was real. I got to hold an infant again. I could smell her.

I woke up thinking how far we've come. I did not wake up with a sense of loss and sadness. Though, I can fully understand and relate to those feelings. I can conjure them, wistfully. Because I do love babies and I will be thrilled to hold babies again one day, should I be so lucky as to have the chance.

But no, I was not feeling sad when I woke. I was feeling relieved. I was a nanny for almost 10 years before I had my kids. I limped into motherhood nearly broken from too many years caring for people under the age of three. It was dawning on me, almost as I was giving birth, that no human is meant to live with people under three, in that constant state of care, for years on end. It is not healthy and it is not natural. Many babies in a row, sure. But they are supposed to grow and change, with you growing and changing along side them. If you have a string of babies, you are surely meant to have a string of rising teenagers in the house as well. Because seriously, I was almost broken. The children I nannied got way better care than my own.

I had postpartum rage that was truly dangerous. I actually had to call my husband home one day, afraid I was no longer safe around them. I understand mothers who go insane and kill their children - put them in a really safe place where they can no longer be harmed. It makes me sad, my understanding of this and that I arrived as a mother broken. It throws light onto the fact that I totally and completely could not care for my two year old nephew the year we moved home from Texas. Forget the fact that my sister may literally be insane. Forget the fact that our relationship is toxic. Forget the fact that I don't want my kids around her husband. (Jesus Christ, forget that someone who dislikes me so much would want me to care for their child - I mean really - that is crazy.) But even if those reasons weren't reasons, I could not be the one to care for that boy day in and day out. I was not fit for the job.

Which is a shame, because I am really really really good at it. I know how to raise babies. I should, I've had enough practice. And I take the dream as a sign that I am beginning to heal. I love babies. I am good at their care and one day I hope to make a fabulous grand parent.

My current job is all about bigger people. Big Kids. Pre teens. Tweens. And dare I say it? Certainly before I know it, Teenagers. Ah new lessons, new challenges, new tasks, and oh joy, a whole new genre of books. I am not certain of myself in this new territory. I am not a professional here. I am not expert. But I am willing and kind and enthusiastic. And we are moving forward together. Yes, nature means for us to progress and stretch and travel. And if my travels make a circle that places a baby in my arms, I'll be a lucky woman.


Lizabeth said...

Wow. I admire your honesty. I was a nanny for a while before I got married and had kids, but I did some other things in between. I totally understand about getting used up. When I was a teacher, it was clear to me that my students were getting a better version of me than my children were, most days. Balancing... I'm starting to heal from that now, too.

Katherine said...

Thank you Lizabeth. I really truly appreciate that support. It is hard, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

You know what? The books Whole Child/Whole Parent, and Self Esteem: A Family Affair are the two books that helped me figure things out--both mine and theirs. They are just as relevant when you live with teenagers as when you have babies, and I like that a lot.

Your whole story is why I cannot do daycare. I can babysit. For an occasional day or week or month. But EVERY day stretching into INFINITY? Absolutely not. People tell me, "You should do daycare!" I can't. I don't have the nerves for it. I'd crack up.

And grandchildren... I miss the mommy parts, the nursing, the bathing, picking out the clothes, the intimacy of that mother and baby love affair. But,there's some other kind of magic there that caught me by surprise. I can't get enough of him. He makes me laugh all the time, just from happiness, I think. love, V

Katherine said...

Hey V, you are woman I would love to meet one day. I'm always so happy when you chime it. Off to go request those books from the library.

(Joe, are you reading this? Can we get those books?)

Katherine said...

When you chime In. : )

Mommylion said...

I just told my husband the other night that I finally feel ready to be a mother of a baby. Guess my emotional health is a tad behind my reality. :)

Having a teen around might surprise you. It did me. I expected it to be hard, but I truly enjoy it, (even the hard parts). Love it actually.

Sisters and their children... sigh... I share your pain.

rae said...

I just love that you are so real. I have no other words for it, Katherine. Okay, except, real, awesome, and so very brave. You've touched me today, and my soul thanks you.

Katherine said...

Thanks y'all, very much.

Sara said...

This is why I really had to stop doing daycare. Having a baby, and then they grow, is fine. But always having a baby in the "hold me" stage so that your days of being stuck in a rocking chair stretch into infinity ... I was losing it and as soon as the daycare kids were picked up I just wanted NO MORE CHILDREN around, including my own. We're doing so much better now, with a different job for me.