On My Watch


I am taking care of Madelene during the week now that Jen has returned to work. It was strange to be completely on my own with M, I really relied on Jen’s seemingly endless energy and diligence. Now, I feel a bit more comfortable and am finding my own way. It turns out that I am a pretty low-key but persistent parent. I don’t dazzle M with baby talk or stuff like that–Jen is brilliant at it, I was jealous for a little while. I am mellow, and I find that I love to take her for long walks during which I just continuously talk about everything we pass. I try to explain any big words I use, but beyond that, I just talk to her like I would any child-aged person. She seems to really like it.

I also find she loves it when I sing to her, so I am singing her every song I can remember, mostly sad country songs I memorized when I taught myself how to play ukelele. She really loves Ring of Fire and Big Rock Candy Mountain so far. I know, I know, I need to learn some kid-friendly songs. We take long naps together when I can spare the time; M loves to snuggle in the crook of my arm and snooze hard for an hour or more. These small things, I can do. I can do them with all the power I can muster, with every iota of my being. I just want to find the ways in which I can parent unreservedly right from the get-go so I can build those muscles up for all the parenting travails and joys to follow. I won’t be able to cherry-pick my parenting moments ever again–this time with M is such a luxury. I am learning how to open my heart and mind to the entire breadth of being a mom: I will be one every moment for the rest of my life, it has to inform every choice I make from here on out.

We’ve taken a few trips into the city together, and at first it was flat-out terrifying. M was great, it was just that whole feeling of risk looming over us that had me on edge. Once again, I just had to find my way. I stick close to other people with children, keeping my eye peeled for anybody acting unhinged. When we are walking and I have her in the Snugli, I just always have one arm around her protectively, guarding her from careless people. It’s all very common-sensical, really, but I just had to start doing it on my own. I had to realize that I do indeed have a maternal instinct after all, I have a perfectly valid personal momma-ing style.

I guess what it boils down to is that I really had given up all hope of being a parent years ago, and it has taken a bit of work to fully reorient my life now that this miracle has actually happened. I was so bent on career and achievement, I had no room for anything else at all. Now, Madelene is my top priority. What a sea change! What a transformation! And all thanks to sweet Jen, who waded through my bachelor ways to finally domesticate me. I’m very lucky.

M is asleep in the other room. I am getting ready for my office hour at school, now that we’ve taken care of all the foreseeable needs she may have today. This whole family thing, it’s utterly doable! I am letting go of some things, to be sure. I won’t be able to work all day and night like I used to but then again, I was massively inefficient and distractable. Now, I have to be engaged in all I do. This is not a sacrifice but a blessing, I have realized. I was frittering my life away until M and Jen came along. Now I can give to them and lend my life some true meaning.


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