thoughts on early motherhood, part 1

I was a relatively strange, introverted and obsessive-compulsive child.  One of my more innocuous-seeming habits stemmed from the bizarre and somewhat debilitating belief that my stuffed animals were alive and would suffer pain and eventual death if I were to leave them alone for too long, or cease to touch them.  Contact with my body nurtured and nourished them (as I was convinced, at the age of 6), hence I would pile my twin bed high with tigers and pandas and dogs of all shapes and sizes.  It was difficult for me to fit in my own bed for many of my younger years, but I don’t think this did me any lasting damage.  On the contrary, I have now discovered this particular obsessive compulsion is a perfectly acceptable and in fact necessary when applied to adult women in a certain stage of life.

This is the best, indeed the only, way I can possibly begin to describe my attachment to my daughter.  Similar to a stuffed tiger, she is unable to move about or do much of anything on her own (besides make plenty of noise, as I’ve discovered), and she has constant need, all of which seem to involve near-constant contact with my body in some way.  These needs have caused me to spend what seems like 24 hours a day holding or carrying her, or sensitively attuned to the potential noises she may be making if we are not in contact.  When I leave the house–once each day, in the evening, to walk the dog in various shades of twilight–I hear her phantom voice from across the town center, through piped iPod concerts or audiobooks.

Unlike my childhood obsessions, I don’t find this new, adult compulsion to be troubling or unbearable in any way.  Instead, whatever maternal hormones are coursing through my veins leave me helplessly blissful at all times of the day and night.  I can easily sit for hours watching her facial expressions while she sleeps, or singing the same songs over and over again in the middle of the night.  Exhaustion does play some role in my daily routine, but it is hardly overwhelming.  On the contrary, for the most part I feel rested and healthy and tremendously alert.  The fact that I haven’t written a single post before now is due to the fact that I rarely have two free hands with which to use a keyboard, not because I have nothing to say.  I am writing this entry by cutting into my nightly allotment of sleep time, so you, dear reader, should feel particularly privileged.

A brief update or report from the front: I have not become a different person upon having this baby.  If anything, I have somehow been able to reach a part of myself that I truly love, that seemed inaccessible before: the pure and child-like part that reads novels and sings along to everything, that dives deep and rides waves, that believes in magic.

I remember being 12 years old and being oh-so terrified of growing up, growing old, and growing out of all the Romantic notions I so venerated.  I was painfully self-aware, as one is at this age, and I could have sworn the magic was leaching out of me with each passing day.  I mourned its passing throughout my adolescence, and suffered in the void I felt in its place.  It wasn’t until I met my husband that I began to realize that it wasn’t all gone; I could get it back, in snippets and in gasps, under choice circumstances.  Love will do that to you: give you things you thought you’d lost, or things you never knew you had. And so here we are again: this little person, with her bow lips and her wide eyes, her straight blond hair and her big feet, has released these elemental characteristics that I have fought to sustain since I was a child.

That’s all for now.

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