Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Right now I'm sitting in a cafe while someone else plays with Henry, feeds him, and puts him down for a nap, but he occupies my thoughts almost as much as if he were here, banging on the table and pointing emphatically to my food with his signature, all-purpose "ba!" (give me that now, look at that, open this door, there's a ball/box/dog/cat, etc.). Is he having trouble falling asleep for his morning nap right now? Did I forget to tell Susan something? Is he fussy? Does Susan cuddle him? I forgot to tell her about chase and hiding, and how that is one of the main contexts for physical affection these days. Did he drink very much of the bottle? Is he hungry? Does Susan know what to do right now? Does he miss nursing?
I can see that being off duty is going to take some practice.
While I work on that, I'll pick up a hat (two hats?) I tucked away almost two years ago: writer and editor. I have only eight hours each week to devote to freelance work, so I'm going to have to spend my time carefully. Only projects that enhance my portfolio--no fluffy stuff. Tell your friends: Amy Millward, freelance writer and editor, is open for non-fluffy business!
I know many parents trust their three-month-olds with a full-time nanny; I'm leaving my one-year-old for two half days a week. Not exactly the same thing. So I feel a little silly admitting it, but this is hard. I feel an intense pull to be around him, to care for him, to know how he is feeling at all times. It's almost physically painful to leave the house without him.
But that's actually one reason I'm doing this. Now that I'm a parent, I understand why people get obsessed with their kids. It's a consuming role. I think everyone who is their child's primary caregiver risks letting other facets of themselves not just fall to the wayside, but actually curl up and die. I guess we tend to define ourselves by what we spend the majority of our time doing. I eat, sleep, and breathe Henry, and I believe that what I'm doing is challenging and important work. This is the most satisfying job I've ever had. But already I'm having a hard time seeing myself as anything other than a mother, and that's sad, because I am many things.
So. For a few hours every week, I will hang with the laptop-in-a-cafe crowd, maybe eat a lemon curd doughnut (don't judge), and hunt down some work that doesn't involve diapers. Or maybe it does, if you want me to write copy about diapers. I'm open. Let's do this thing!