15 October 1998

Thoughts After a Stressful Day

I don't know what I want. A new mother, swamped with responsibilities and saddled with work so that our family can keep its collective head above water, I just don't see where my wanting things makes sense.
Occasional whiffs of wants pass me almost constantly. They're tantalizing, and they make me ache and yearn, but they vaporize immediately. The baby fusses, or the phone rings, or the magazine I've been reading fitfully forces a different world-view on me...and those dreams, thoughts, ideas just float off, defeated.
And in retrospect, when I try to excavate the day's assemblage of wants for my husband (who probably fears for my sanity when he sees me lying in bed at impossible hours THINKING without resolution), the list I begin to renumerate sounds absurd and trite. I want to write books for a living. I want to have my own business instead of being at the mercy of a mercurial, imposing boss. I want to be home with my children where I belong. I want to continue to have the freedom to cook fabulous meals for my family (which I've been doing, as a balm, ever since my maternity leave began). I want to be the person I was once, who believed in herself, trusted in others, and wasn't afraid.
And that's really it: I'm afraid all the time. Bolluxed by fear and paralytic with uncertainty. Too many competing elements in my life; they overwhelm my inner urges and squelch them utterly.
Meanwhile, like clockwork, my breasts ebb and swell with my daughter's meals, and I continually anticipate those respites with relish. My kids, worn with the changes they're going through, try to make the bus every morning, tired and sluggish, infuriating their dad. Their dad, my husband, wants desperately for our household to return to a semblance of predictability: financially certainly, but also the basic functions of schedule and emotional stability (what we had of that, anyway). And our new family member, Lydia Frances, demands so little and gives so much to all of us. She is in no way the cause of the juncture I've come to. She is only part of its emotional urgency.
I can only sigh, reviewing this mental landscape in which I dwell. I don't imagine there's anything I can do to assuage the malcontent I feel. I can shrug it off quite frequently, buoyed by interactions with others, but it always returns, like an incoming tide encroaches on the sand. No amount of "spontaneous" consumerism can defray the feelings; no amount of talking it through can answer the questions. And nothing gets written. This last phrase is the neat, strong summary of what is wrong.

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