As usual in her literary way, P at Blood Signs is stirring things up in me. She does that to a lot of people.
Not pregnant but expecting a child nonetheless, I often feel bitter at 4am in the morning. I feel bitter because I still yearn for the life I never had. Just at that time when I get up to pee and then can’t get back to sleep. I wonder – how did I get here? Remember that Talking Heads song? Once in a Lifetime? Am I happy yet? Where did I get this flabby midsection, who the hell am I sleeping next to? I’m okay most of the time, but you know in daily life there is a daily parade of what could have beens. Those nesting moments, the excitement, the ultrasounds, the innocence. I miss the old me at 4am. I also miss my old husband. I miss my own expectations of who I thought I was. I talked to my husband today and he told me that life hasn’t been fun for a long time. Not since the whole BABY thing. And since I drove the 2nd to 4th attempts, in my attempt to OVERCOME ALL OBSTACLES AND BE A WINNER! we still came up empty handed and so by default, I feel blamed. Savings gone, whopping debt incurred and nothing to show for it but a prescription for an antidepressant. I didn’t need a pill I needed a baby, but my uterus didn’t get that memo. So much for black women being super fertile, eh? I told him that infertility did change me. And this adoption has also changed me. It’s made me cautious, tentative. I feel as if we’ve both had to jump through hoops and it makes me feel… a little like a thief.
Yeah, I know I gotta let it go. LET GO OF THE DREAM, DAMMIT! What? Are you kidding, when we could JUST ADOPT? As if it was like checking out a library book. Go to the old card catalogue, write down the number, hand it to the librarian who goes behind the special stacks and doesn’t come back out for 2 years. And me, standing there, forgetting what book I wanted. Out of print, you say? Okay, how about something else, anything else.
Pam talks about expectations. Being at the mercy of other people’s schedules and priorities, wondering where she’s supposed to fit in a life for herself. Sacrifice. It’s something women are supposed to be good at. Silent at. Some of us are expected to keep the home running like a well oiled machine. I have a confession. It’s not a job I like. It’s necessary because I’ve never had a 9 – 5 type work life. Hubby made it crystal clear years ago then if I wasn’t going to be working regularly, then I had better get the laundry done, clean the house and do the dishes. That was supposed to be my contribution. At the time, I was suffering from a deep depression (misdiagnosed as lazy and self indulgent) and hearing that was like a death sentence. My 18 year old self was yelling from inside of me, go tell him to go F*** himself. I cried, I stomped my feet and I stuffed it all down and began to journal while at the laundromat. And strangely enough, I found a kind of peace between the washer and the dryer. You know if I had had a laptop then, I would have been blogging. Or cheating online. Yep, most likely the latter.
And man, oh man in the midst of trying to conceive, I hit my domestic stride and discovered baking. I was serene. I was about to embark upon my greatest creative endeavour and I was excited and determined and planning my acceptance speech. I gritted my teeth and smiled through all the procedures as if I was starring in my own documentary. What a trooper! Did you know her mother had a stroke? Poor thing!
Fast forward to present day. I don’t smile as quickly. I watch my words. I diet. I watch my mum grow feeble and I change her Depends. I don’t get drunk and go out dancing anymore cause well, I’m old and all my friends have kids. I feel like I’m 29 years old again, talking to my therapist about my low self esteem. Except now I’m just plumb embarrassed. Cause low self esteem for a 46 year old black woman is NOT ATTRACTIVE. Well, in truth, it’s not so much low self esteem as it is low expectations.
It has occurred to me, as of late, that being an adult woman means enduring discomfort, sacrifice and clean floors.