you ever have those moments? when you think back on something you said or did and simply cannot believe that the person that said or did that was really you? it must have been an imposter disguised as you! or maybe you are dreaming this memory? it didn’t really happen. as I get older, I have these moments more and more in general, but especially now that I have two, going on three kids, I really can’t believe some of the things I did.
take the summer after ruth was born, for instance. an aunt and uncle had us up north for ruth’s first “trip up north” along lake huron. the week was as miserable as your usual family vacation and culminated in a “floatilla” or a tubing/canoe trip down the au sable river with my younger cousins. and, oh yeah, there was booze. I say this with incredulity: I left my two month old daughter with my husband and took this trip with my cousins, and proceeded to get very, very drunk. what the hell?
anyone who has ever had a breastfed two month old knows that they breastfeed almost every two hours (or more!). what was I thinking?? I as gone for 3-4 hours and came back drunk to a crying baby and a pretty upset husband. now, in general, I am a pretty conscientious person. so, what the hell had I been thinking, I was thinking to myself the other night, when I revisited this particular memory? was I just so weakened by the stress of the week, of being around feuding family and trying to navigate a vacation with my newborn, that I cracked? was I stupid? how did I miscalculate my responsibility so egregiously?
then I realized: at that point in my life, I had split into two people. the person I used to be and the person I was now that I was a parent. and those two people that lived inside of me fought all the time for control. most of the time, the parent was at the forefront, struggling to figure out who the hell it was and how it should act, but sometimes, like on that trip, the old me took the helm for a bit.
those were hard times. sometimes I think a person could make the case that the transition from zero to one baby is the hardest in so many ways (though i will say that I never experienced mind-numbing stress until there were two little people who needed everything from me). how it resolved was that I had to kill my former self. murder her. do away with her.
I’m not heartless, I did it for the good of everyone: myself and my children. I couldn’t go on leading a double life like that. I had to commit, shudder at the thought, I know. I did it as quickly as I could, as painlessly as possible. she didn’t feel a thing and seemed like she maybe knew anyways, that it was her time to go. the truth is, it took a long time, over a year, to totally rid myself of her. sometimes, I still think she haunts me form time to time. but for the most part, she is a thing of the past, and rightly so.
do I miss her? sure. like I would miss an old friend that I went separate ways from and who i no longer see eye to eye on anything with. the truth is, I think every person goes through something like this after they become a parent, struggling between two worlds, if you will. I see it manifest all the time in many different ways. but I think that the importance of giving ourselves over to this new role and way of life as parents shouldn’t be undervalued and is an essential step in growing up and really taking ownership of our families.