Twenty years ago, I met my Hubby. I was struggling through a difficult break-up. We built a life and a family together.
For the next decade, I was a mother. I experienced pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, sleepless nights, weaning, temper tantrums, and potty training. Rinse and repeat.
There were babies that were planned and very wanted, and there were surprise babies, too. There were pregnancies that challenged me physically, and others that challenged me mentally and emotionally. When I wasn’t changing diapers or feeding babies, I was managing tantrums and battles of ownership over favorite toys.
Hubby was at the bottom of my list of priorities, and I was even further down the list. Things were just as they “should” be. We survived colic and night feedings, overtime and a new college degree. There were job changes, promotions, and financial struggles. There were times we grew apart, and there were times that we rediscovered one another. And always, there was another baby….
I discovered a small village of women who became my survival. We met once a week, babies and toddlers in tow, and prayed for strength. It worked for a time, but life got in the way. Families moved, priorities shifted, and our group was no longer. They were genuine friendships, and those of us who were not able to stay close, held tightly to our love and support for each other.
My season of discontent began when the last pregnancy surprised us. I was done with babies. My family was complete. And then it wasn’t. I avoided my first midwife appointment as long as I possibly could. I drove to that first appointment and sat in the car, my heart pounding wildly, dreading the ride up in the elevator. The smell of hospital antiseptic and the distinct smell of hospital linens nearly gave me a panic attack. I went back to therapy. I did not want another baby, and I did not change my mind.
Her birth was fast and furious. We arrived at the hospital exactly eighteen minutes before she was born, and I laughed when I saw her. She was one of us. She resembled all of her sibling Hobbits, and she was MY BABY. My midwife called my reaction a “delivery-room miracle.”
I thought the emptiness in my soul would be filled when I fell in love. Hubby is a beautiful, grounded complement to my chaos and impulsivity. But he has not fulfilled me. I tried filling the emptiness with babies. When they began to stop needing me, I had another…… and another….. and another.
I found my way back to god, and then maybe away again.
I found some measure of independence in working, but I am still not whole.
I am not allowed to think for myself. I am not allowed to make a single independent decision. I feel judged and found lacking. I feel needed… oh, so very fucking needed…. and oh, so very fucking loved. I am suffocating under the weight of it all.
This is not who I want to be.
I love my Hubby with all my heart. I love my kids so fiercely, it sometimes takes my breath. It is not enough.
I find myself planted firmly in middle age, longing for something. I long for space that is my own. I long for thoughts that are mine to keep. I long to make even one single decision without first thinking of the other seven people in my life.
I long for small cozy spaces and long stretches of solitude. I long for soft pillows, fluffy blankets and unlimited time to read. I long for a warm drink to cradle in my lap.
I long for hours to nap and daydream, but my daydreams frighten me…. and so I nap.
I long for deep breaths, and space to take them, unencumbered. I am trapped somewhere between the longing and the love. The battle between the two is slowly killing me.