I’m sitting up late while everyone is sound asleep in their beds. I can feel the cold air swirl gently around my feet as I pull my cardigan closer, trying to warm my bony bod. I need to fatten up I think to myself and then as quickly as those negative opinions of my body come they dispel into something sweeter. I smile because I know exactly where all of my body fat has gone. Almost instantly I feel the gentle warmth of tenderness melt over me as I think about the chubby baby curled up snuggly in the next room.
I like night time; I like the feeling of solitude that only the night time allows me. Daytime with baby is a bit mental. Even though staying up way past bedtime means that I’ll be tired tomorrow, I still do it because it’s worth the peace and quiet. It’s worth the baggy eyes and heavy head because even though I’m exhausted at least my heart is invigorated. At least my soul is fed.
I do better on less sleep than I used to. In the beginning the sleep deprivation was really hard. For as long as I can remember I’ve been a creature of the night. I had always created at night and if I had to during the day it was certainly after 10am. Let me tell you, those three hourly feeds wear you down very quickly. People without children like to think they know what tired feels like. When I hear people (who don’t have kids) say they had a bad nights sleep I quietly chuckle. One day they’ll learn the true definition of sleep deprivation the way I did – the old fashioned way. The most humbling, soul-sparking way.
These days I’m often waking with the sunrise. I’m now a creature of both day and night. I’ve come to learn that there is something mystic about the first purples and dusty pinks of the dawn. I now love the way the air gets cooler just before sunrise. It feels otherworldly, like I’ve somehow (as if my magic) been given a second chance; a new start to spend the day exactly how I want to. The grit of yesterday is gone and here before me is my new beginning.
* * *
I am sitting on the bed with my legs crossed like bows underneath me surrounded by erupted suitcases, clean but unfolded washing, last night’s wedding clothes and my university books. My centre is knotted tight. I am supposed to be concentrating on this week’s lectures but instead I am in my own head. It’s a dangerous place and my conscious is walking in strange circles, lost in the maze of dark thoughts.
I am anxious about my grades. I’m worried how I’m going to get through all my assessment this semester. I don’t know how to juggle everything. I’m worried that I won’t find the time to write songs, and eat well, and exercise, and be present in my marriage, and a be a good friend and an engaged mama. It’s just all too much.
And the more I anguish over these things the more fear stricken I become. A cruel revolution that repeats over and over until my head spins and I throw my lecture notes across the bed. The word “fraud” keeps bubbling to the surface and it makes my skin prickle. Hot, self loathing words fill my mouth like sticky tar. “I can’t. There’s no time. I’ll fail anyway. Who am I kidding? I don’t deserve it.”
I want to cocoon myself, and never come out. The chrysalis forever entombed never to be a moth. The world is too intimidating and I’m terrified that if I uncurl from my homespun someone will catch me out and see that I am not who I say I am, much less take flight.
* * *
We’d just gotten back from America; a whirl wind trip to San Francisco, Las Vegas (and Grand Canyon), Colorado Springs and my head was still spinning with jetlag. Suitcases that look like their insides have randomly exploded lay around the lounge room floor. Aquila was a dream to travel with. Watching her observe the world from her stroller, wide-eyed and grinning at friendly strangers who’d peer in and tickle her made my heart swell with happiness. This is exactly the kind of childhood I dreamed for our children. A childhood of travel, adventure, cultures and experiences.
Before leaving on our trip, most people told us we were insane for travelling with a baby. I got a little tired of the shocked looks, and gasping mouths. I started to get a bit defensive when ever someone with older children than mine laughed at us, as if to say “good luck, you’ll need it.” I’ve never understood why people don’t travel with their children, to me THAT’S what is “insane.” Why stop living your life just because you have a baby? I mean, shouldn’t we be living MORE when our children come along?
We hiked up and down the hills of San Fran, stopping into places that looked interesting, and ate when we were hungry. We found a donut shop and fed Aquila her first mouthful of sugary, heavenly donut (the first of many I am sure). We biked along the water’s edge all the way up to the Golden Gate with Aquila. She was grumpy that day because it was very windy and her helmet kept sliding over her face blocking her vision. Still, we managed to keep her semi-happy as she sailed along strapped to the back of James’ bike like little jet pack.
Las Vegas was superb. I’ve always been fond of neon signs and glittery dresses. I the love shows, and the night time smells of the strip and the way it stays on your clothes. I like Las Vegas, not for the gambling or the partying but for the people watching, the crackling desert air and the food. Taking a baby to Las Vegas is tricky but manageable if you allow yourself to be flexible. The Grand Canyon took my breath away; just as it did the first time I saw it ten years ago. Aquila was asleep the whole time we were there. So we got some nice family photos of her with her head gently rolled to one side, while James and I grinned and marveled at the sheer face-melting grandness of the place. One day I will hike to the bottom with Aquila.
When we finally arrived in Colorado Springs a week later, I felt like I was home. The air felt strangely familiar. It felt like I had been there before, which I hadn’t. Well, not in this lifetime anyway.
The flight from Vegas to Denver was horrendous. Aquila and I had caught a mild tummy bug. I think we had three flights to get us to Denver and on each flight Aquila projectile vomited on me. There is no ikky-er feeling than partially digested breast milk trickling down the back of your pants but we finally made it, and Anna still hugged me at the airport even though I’m sure I smelled awful! Aquila screamed like a banshee in the car for the entire two hour drive to Colorado Springs. I was crippled with worry and exhaustion. I didn’t want to have to deal with the American health system and a sick child. When we finally got home and everyone had gone to bed I realized I hadn’t eaten any food for six hours, which if you are breastfeeding is a baaaaaad. So I downed a couple of tubes baby food we bought at the store and passed out next to my already comatose husband. #mumlife
My sister Anna (not my real biological sister but sister by choice) was about to marry the most incredible guy and I had the honor of singing her down the aisle. Their wedding was the best I have been to. No one can top having donuts for a wedding cake. NO ONE. Maple bacon donuts anyone?
I didn’t want to leave Colorado Springs. I felt like I’d finally found my tribe and I cried in the airport after Anna dropped us off. I didn’t want our crazy adventure to end.