For a few days, it was close to lovely. E. was doing better. And now, for perennial unknown reasons, she has returned to the pukathon. It’s gotten to the point where sometimes, after I get thrown up on, I question whether or not it’s worth changing my outfit. After all, it’s only bile.
Here’s the thing: right now, caregiving is my life.
Theoretically, I am not afraid to sit with pain. But the pain of witnessing our baby so sick and uncomfortable, with no end in sight, I want to take it all away. I want to chuck her suffering out the window so that it can land on the busy street below our house and get run over by a pickup truck.
And then I want to go out to a club, in a very impractical outfit (one that cannot be worn to preschool pick-up), and spend the rest of the night dancing.
Somehow, since becoming a mother, I’ve become so good. Nurturing, reliable, scheduled. Predictable. There are days when I don’t want to be that good.
For many years, I would go on and on about how I’d never get married. It seemed so conventional to me, and I thought that being conventional was something that people did when they’d given up on being bold-hearted. My mother always said, with a lipstick-coated smile, “We’ll see.”
I used to be more of a rebel. Just a little bit, nothing big. I protested under the clocktower about the treatment of homeless people, lived with anarchists (the good kind, the visionaries) in the backwoods of Vermont, growing our own food and surviving off the smoky heat from a wood stove. I railed against The Patriarchy. I marched in the streets, I loved all kinds of people. I had big dreams for myself, and for our tender, luminous planet.
And, like 98% of all things, my mom was right. I did get married. In Iowa for solidarity, because at the time, LGBTQ folks couldn’t get legally married here in Minnesota.
After a 6 month engagement that started over a cup of coffee, Cedar and I hightailed it to Decorah, just over the border of MN, and had a civil ceremony. After the 15 minute event (including pictures), we went to Seed Savers and kissed near the Black Eyed Susans. It was pouring so hard that the road flooded on the way back.
A few months later, we had a nice, big, candlelit Jewish wedding near my parents house, at Gale Woods Farm. It was officiated by our beloved rabbi who was also present at my Bat Mitzvah. I wore broken in cowboy boots with my off-white handmade dress, because I wasn’t about to enter into this life long situation in discomfort.
Somehow, someone turned on Beyonce and Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” while we were dancing the hora. By the end of the night, almost everyone was sweating together out on the dance floor. Full on shaking it. That’s close to my version of utopia (just add worldwide tikkun olam and there it is).
I never dreamed of a wedding; I wasn’t that kind of girl. But being tossed around on a folding chair, being fully supported by our people, knowing that Cedar and I chose each other? To do this whole life thing together, every single day? From the view up there, anything felt possible.
That all seems like a very long time ago.
Sometimes, when I’m nose deep in a day where I haven’t had hardly a moment to myself, I wonder who I have become. The relentless home nursing routines, the vomiting, the never ending scheduling and appointments; is this what I am here to do?
I am more than grateful that we did get married. For me, marriage has never been the problem. But there are days when I long to be free, in other ways—ways I couldn’t imagine before any of this happened. Before our girl came to us and brought us to our knees.
While watching a throwback Sesame Street episode earlier this week, A. started catapulting himself off of his favorite yellow chair. Again and again, he launched his little body, landing in awkward positions on our tan semi-shag carpet. When I asked him what he was up to (and reminded him to jump on the floor, not the furniture), he replied, “I’m walking in the moonlight.” It was 8:15 AM.
I want to feel like I’m walking in the moonlight. But mostly I feel like I’m crawling underneath an overcast sky. With occasional, unexpected flashes of sun.
Cedar has been gearing up to go on tour and so he’s in the basement practicing every spare nanosecond. He’s living a thrilling artistic life.
You know where I’ll be? Holding it down here in Southwest Minneapolis. Biting my tongue, while A. begs for dessert like it’s his last meal. Snuggling E.’s tiny body against me in the rocker as the nights get longer, singing her songs that I only half-remember from Hebrew school. I’ll be washing the dishes, packing lunch and later, once everything else is finished, staying up late to write.
Mostly, I’ll be doing whatever I can to remind myself that yes, everything changes, and then it keeps on changing.
And maybe—I hope—I’ll put my face up to the window and see if I can catch a glimpse of that moonlight. Even if it’s filtered a little through the screen.
None of it will last forever. Not these bile soaked mornings, not the nights when E. seems like like an unruly alarm clock, waking on the hour. Not even the rare, easy moments that I wish, more than anything, could go on and on and on.