It’s been one hell of a week. With Krys in full-time work, I’ve had the pleasure of having Roz all to myself from sun-up to sun-down, and boy is it hard work! I now have a newfound respect for single mums. It’s not that I find it difficult being with Roz, it’s just that it is really exhausting. You can’t slack off one little bit. You have to be so focused. If I thought it was tough when she was learning to sit, I wistfully look back at those days, knowing that I didn’t know how good I had it. Now that she’s crawling and pulling up to stand whenever she can and on any surface she finds, I wish I had eyes in the back of my head and wasn’t so sleep deprived. I worry that she’ll slip and crack her head open on the wooden floors; that she’ll crack her teeth when she falls; that she’ll fall on something hard and hurt herself…it never ends.
I think the hardest thing about being a parent is that I am utterly and completely responsible for this little human being. There isn’t a single day when I can just walk back to the hospital and say,
“Gee, that was harrowing. I think I’ve learnt how to be a parent now, so you can take her back for a week or two and I’ll be back for her once I’ve thought up a new strategy for parenting”
When the public health nurse calls to make appointments, she says,
“Hi, is this Roz’s mom?”
And it’s always surreal to say that yes, it’s Roz’s mom here.
This is forever.
And when I realise this, I want to cry, because I really do have to be a grown up now. I always knew I was supposed to happen at some stage, but even though I’m writing this, I want to laugh at how strange it feels describing myself as a grown up. And again, is it more important how the world views you, or how you view yourself?
When my mum was here in December, I was eating a bag of chocolate raisins. They also happened to be the exact same brand I ate as a child, because there’s a lovely south-African shop that stocks them in the city. My mum looked at them and, laughing, said,
“Muuka! You still eat those?”
I said, “You say that as though there’s something wrong with my eating them”
“Well”, she replied, “you are a grown up now, you shouldn’t still be eating those. Those are childhood things”
So does that mean when you’re a grown up you give up everything you enjoyed as a child, just so you can be seen to be an adult? Or was it just because she is my mother and so will forever see me as a child anyway, and all those things I may have done or enjoyed as a child make me a child in her eyes?
I suppose when a woman has a child, she has more societal pressure to grow up. You’re supposed to act responsibly now that you have someone you have to be responsible for. Maybe some feel too that you have to leave behind things like partying till the wee hours of the morning, dressing a certain way, flirting…yet men are not treated the same, I guess because it’s not them that have to carry the child for nine months, so there’s no outward sign that their world is about to change. And unless a man actively takes part in the ‘child rearing’, he can maintain his care-free, child free lifestyle to some extent. It’s unfair, but I fear true, at least that’s how I see it.
In Poland, we stayed with Krys’ friend for a few days. He’s been with his partner for two years now and they have a beautiful house on the side of a hill, westward facing so that they can watch the sunset each evening on the porch. It’s such a beautiful house it actually made me sick with longing. I would love to own my own house. I always told myself that I would feel like a real grown up once I had achieved this.
Anyway, one night we had a barbecue at sunset and decided to stay up and have a few drinks and just chat. Now, since I don’t speak polish, I’m always aware that people have to make an effort to keep the conversation flowing when I’m in Poland. I could see Anna struggling to understand everything I said, and it was making my head hurt trying to speak slowly enough to make myself understood. Plus, there are only so many topics you can speak about in order to keep the conversation flowing. It actually hurt to see them speaking at top speed in polish, telling jokes, then have to wait for Krys to interpret it for me, and vice versa. So I decided to just go and read in bed, on the pretext of making sure Roz was okay in a foreign environment.
When we were back in Ireland, Krys said that Anna thought I was very grown up. She told Krys ( and I’m paraphrasing here) that I had probably left all the fun stuff like getting drunk with them that night and staying up late because now I’m a mom and have to be all responsible. I wish she knew the real reason, but ah well, what can you do.
So she saw me as a grown up. Child equals more responsible, and silly behaviour out. If only she knew!
To be honest, I don’t know if I’ll ever feel all grown up, and I’ve stopped trying to figure it out. I’ll have to be more responsible with Roz of course, but I don’t know what else i can change about myself that’ll make me feel I’ve crossed that divide.
If anyone has figured it out yet, please let me know.