Kathleen holds the place in my life as Real Life friend I’ve had the longest. We have been friends since we were two year old punks. My memory of our friendship kicks in around age five or six, when we rode bikes, put dirty words into her Speak N Spell (remember those?), and that one time she threw up in my shoe. True friendship is measured in which articles of clothing in which one or the other of you has vomited. So from that moment on, we were stuck together for life.
Kathleen actually dated my husband for years after high school, and I always assumed the two of them would get married. I’m happy to say Kathleen and I are happily married to our respective badasses, and she has recently welcomed her beautiful baby boy to her family. She is the farmer behind the website The Advent of the Totally Urban Farmer, and today she writes about becoming a self-proclaimed “Love Slave Zombie” from the minute she met her baby boy. Enjoy!
I was so excited when Laney asked me to do a guest post for her most excellent blog, because I was literally IN THAT MOMENT celebrating two major Victory Month Victories: I had waxed my own eyebrows and mustache all by myself, with no interruptions and and no worries. Also, I had worked out with the Wii for 30+ minutes all by myself, no interruptions, no worries, for TWO DAYS IN A ROW. Two! In a row! And then Laney’s all, could you contribute to my victory month blog guest posts? You can cuss! And I was like, FUCK YEAH!
….Okay, okay, you’re right. People have been writing eloquently here for the past weeks on valiant struggles with mental and physical illness, life-changing devastation, and deep soulful redemption. And I’m talking about waxing and Wii. Yeah, written down, it does look a little ridiculous. But! These are serious victories, indeed! Allow me to explain.
Almost exactly a year ago, I became a Love Slave Zombie.
It happens all the time; a couple wants to get pregnant, they do, they have a baby…bundles and oodles of joy! And everyone lives happily ever after! Right? Well, so society says. What I didn’t know before my husband and I undertook this journey was that it pretty much turns one into a Love Slave Zombie. It changed/is changing/will change my life in deep, profound, personal ways, just like it does everybody who chooses to have a kid. The nature of the change is so startling and so personal, though, that no matter how many times anyone SAYS that, the person undergoing it is never prepared. I wasn’t, not one bit.
For a moment it seemed that I would become unrecognizable to myself. My body wasn’t my own, my brain wasn’t doing what it normally did, I had been hijacked by a little precious alien with needs completely other than my own that needed to be met at all times by me. Hence the Love Slave Zombie.
In the days and weeks after the precious alien was born, I sat on the couch for hours with him, nursing him and holding him while he slept. I couldn’t put him down, couldn’t let him out of my sight. My monkey mammal brain had taken over, pushing rationality down so far in my head it was hanging out around my pharynx. But I’m used to having (generally) rational thoughts in my head, so when my thoughts were yelling YOUR MILK ISN’T ENOUGH, HE DOESN’T LIKE IT or YOU CAN NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE AGAIN or NO YOU DON’T NEED SLEEP YOU NEED TO MAKE SURE HE KEEPS BREATHING, they seemed like rational thoughts. My brain would conjure up and present beautiful, crystal clear images of terrible baby-related accidents. In the midst of all the beautiful love and snuggles and delight of having a new baby, in my sleep-deprived monkey brain I sometimes felt like I was going crazy.
Lucky lucky luckily, I discovered that this post-partum anxiety was very common, and lucky lucky luckily, I was not debilitated by it. And as days turned to weeks and months, it got better and better. I would still check on him obsessively after he was in bed for the night, making sure he was still breathing. I would still postpone my own physical and emotional needs to make sure his were met to my satisfaction. I was a Love Slave Zombie still, but I was starting to get used to it.
Then, when he was 6 months old, it was time for me to go back to work and for him to start daycare. I was terrified. But it happened, and he loved his school. And I re-discovered that I was a teacher, and a professional, with a work life. I found a piece of myself going back to work, which was good for me–part of me wanted, and still wants, to devote myself completely to raising my child, but I find that I am a better mother and wife and person with the balance of job life and mom life and wife life and me life.
But that last life…the me life…that’s the one that I knew was still out of balance. Would I ever work out again? Would I ever take another luxurious shower without him freaking out and it lasting five minutes, or me exiting the shower slightly soapy? Would I enjoy leisurely cooking with a glass of wine? Would I ever be able to enjoy an evening, in or out, by myself or on a date or with friends, without worrying that he might randomly stop breathing?
So here we come to the great victory for victory month…the answer is yes! As my newborn turned into a baby, and is now someplace between babyhood and toddlerhood, I have enjoyed seeing him get more independent little by little. And I have slowly come out of my love slave zombie mode, encouraging myself to delight in his progress while delighting in my own. Now, I’ve got a long way to go! After all, it took me a week and a half just to write this little missive! But I’m learning…all the time I’m learning and relearning how to incorporate being a mom into being a person. And heck, I’m enjoying the ride. So that’s my victory. I’m always learning! And I only cussed once! Thanks for the opportunity, Laney! 🙂