Envying, bragging, guilt, and support
We have a book on the care and feeding of newborns*, and it says in a number of places If X is going really well, don’t tell your friends with new babies, as they’ll be envious. And it’s so true. I’ve read a number of posts from other new mothers and felt envious. Sometimes of the most pathetic things. For instance, Trinity mentioned that her beets are flourishing, and I was like WAAAH! I haven’t had time to thin my beets, plus they’re doing that thing where they never turn into beeeeets! SOB! Which is, uh, ridiculous.
And in general, I’ve got no real cause for envy. I’d elaborate on the ways in which things are going well, but then you’d want to stab ME in the face. Because somehow it often sounds like bragging, even if it’s just a statement of fact.
And then there’s the fact that I have a baby and some of you don’t, which makes me sad.
So I was thinking: Perhaps I need to broaden my horizons and start reading the weblogs of women who did not have trouble conceiving, but with whom I have other common ground. Perhaps get into conversations with people who have different experiences. So I found a weblog that looked interesting, and started reading through the archive to get to know the woman. And then I came upon the post wherein she announced her pregnancy. It took all the air out of my lungs in a way that was quite unexpected. I realized I’d actually never read such a thing before–a pregnancy announcement from someone who didn’t realize how miraculous and tenuous that little life was. (Yeah, I’m not a big reader of weblogs in general–I just read yours.) I was astonished to find myself feeling all the despair and loneliness I used to feel every month, just as though nothing had changed. Weird, y’all. Apparently I’m highly conditioned. And then I didn’t want to read any more.
So I don’t know what to read (other than the things I’m already reading, of course).
And I don’t know what to write.
I want to write about the way my husband’s constant presence gets on my nerves, but I have a husband who works from home, which means I can shower every day. Would you like to read a post about how my husband’s excessive helpfulness is annoying?
I want to write about the ways that our financial stability makes me anxious–how much growing up poor is part of my identity, how I worry that Bun Bun will lack creativity, resourcefulness, respect? Would you like to read a post about how I am TOO RICH?
I want to write about my fear that I can never go back to my job, how answering e-mails from my research assistants about the studies currently running in my lab makes me FUCKING DEPRESSED. Would you like to read a post about how I’m considering throwing away a tenured** position at a perfectly reasonable institution, something thousands of women struggle to achieve?
I want people to sympathize with my problems and offer support, though I’m not sure even I can sympathize with them.
I should just get over myself, and stop obsessing over how others might react. Because I can’t predict it, and anyway, it’s not like these qualms kept me from calling everyone in Bionic‘s whole family a jackass.
I think this is all part of a larger realignment of identity that’s going on right now, as I figure out who this Bunny-as-mother person is, as I contemplate the rest of my career, the rest of my marriage, the Rest of My Life.
*I really like it.
**Because I’ll either be tenured soon after I return to work full time, or I won’t, in which case I bet I’ll be really sorry I ever thought I might not want this job.