This started out as a moany post. Serendipitously, I had grabbed Caitlyn Moran’s How To Be a Woman on the way to work and it opens with her being pelted with stones on her birthday by yobs who mistook her for a boy and it made me smile.
I can’t escape the hints of blue though. It has been, if I am completely honest, not one of the good years. The high point was the birth of Mimi in January. The low points were almost everything else.
I was blue through this pregnancy which I put down to hormones. But there was also exhaustion which was the defining character of this year. I was just getting back into my groove with Benji being literally able to stand on his own two feet when bam! Again. That was it, really, the again. Not, wow, I’m/she’s pregnant, but again, and all the drudge than comes with that.
Then Mimi was born and of course it was crazy and it was marginally better because I knew it was going to be but it was marginally worse because I had this sense of – whoa I am doing this again. But I’m supposed to be experienced and know the drill but that doesn’t make it god less tiring or less frightening when your child keeps crying and you can sort of see the thought bubble over everyone’s head that says: “Why is she going crazy, again?” and you try to hold it together because being crazy twice is not amusing.
The casualties have been my marriage and my body in that order. I have agonised about the former all year. I have gone from my husband is enemy number one to indifference to a sort of sisterly affection to the stirrings of something which is more than anything else a grab for what we once were, all the while loving him but not always being in love. In love is what a marriage needs. Somewhere just before or in between the babies we lost the romance, or I thought he lost it and so I did.
When people hurt me I tend to shut them out and it’s a testimony to how much I love this man that the shutdown happened after so long. Now, for the sake of us all, I’m supposed to raise the roof beams but frankly, I’m too tired. I just want to curl up with a book and read.
My body does not help. It is no longer anything but a service to my children. First food and then something to be played with. My breasts have gone from being an erogenous zone to appendages. The cruel irony is that they’ve gone down a size. And yet, one button of my shirt always gapes open as if they’ve become wider.
More obviously, I have become wider. I felt obliged to put on something halfway attractive this morning but eschewed wearing a vest under the shift I chose and belatedly in the MTR I noticed that a space between buttons was gaping open giving people a view of my blessedly coordinated black bra. And then I looked up and there was a Western girl, French or Russian – the worst kind to look at during these times – who had big hips and a belly but a thin face and I thought, I can deal with that, big at the bottom but a face to look at.
But alas, even my hair has turned traitor. Skipping the haircut in Bombay was a bad idea because it has gone completely mad. So this morning, I tried to pin it back and now every large, unattractive feature is out there for all to wonder at.
A week or so ago, I came across something on John Gottman’s work on marriage and one of his findings is that marriages at least in the US predictably run into trouble around the time the first child is due (which is so commonsensical but sometime you need an authority to remind you of the intricacies of it). And I’ve had two children so this might, after all, be the prosaic explanation for all my angst. I hope so, even though I don’t feel entitled to it because three-fourth of the world has it so so much worse..
I am too grown up now to even be dramatic about it. (Well, clearly except on this blog). First of all, I’ve run out of escape routes. The biggest thing about having children is that it ties you to life. I used to comfort myself that my children can survive without me when they’re 18 but now I realise that if my mum offed herself in my early 20s, I’d be fucked up so I need to be bright and bonny till they’re 30 and hopefully moved on to the loves of their lives. Not that I’m going to kill myself – I would have earlier when I was really unhappy if I was serious about it – but it’s comforting to think one needn’t go on and on. And as a parent there’s no statue of limitations on when you stop worrying about your children. Even when they’re 40, there’s always going to be a small ball of fear in me that something bad might happen to them that I’m powerless to prevent.
It doesn’t help that the future is not orange but grey. I feel like I’m living in limbo with the move to India looming. I keep flip-flopping on it but mostly I’m trying to talk myself into wanting to do it because I don’t have the strength to be the one that forces someone else to do something they don’t want to do. Yesterday, I went to the Post Office and after the guy at the counter had summoned his reserves of English to explain to me what to do and I did it, I thought: ”Why am I leaving this seamlessness to go somewhere like The Hunger Games where if you’re not an expert with the bow and arrow or can attach yourself to someone who is and deal with that dependency you won’t survive?” But I have stopped thinking these thoughts out loud.
I try to be mature and nod and glide through life like a swan these days. Except that this morning Mimi fell flat on her face on my watch and V glared and the door to all this swung open just a bit and I couldn’t stop everything cascading out in time. But I have grown, because in the past I would have sent some kind of cutting text but now I just call to mind all the good things and when that doesn’t work dream about cigarettes I have no hope of smoking.
PS: This is not a plea for sympathy. The therapy is in the telling. Plus, this is a record.