🔖 Read Titling it “The Problem That Has No Name” seemed a bit heavy handed by Drew Zandonella

In the latest issue of her newsletter, Drew Zandonella speaks the truth of my heart about parenting and the stage of life I’m in right now.

The last time Jacob and I had more than an hour alone to do anything together besides stare lovingly at our screens I asked, “well, what the fuck do we do next?” With degrees, a marriage, a mortgage, and a kid we’ve hit of all the outdated traditional markers of adulthood, however flawed they may seem. In a reaction that could have essentially just been a screenshot of the end of The Graduate, he replied, “I guess we just keep going.”

Things are a bit different for us, as I’ve got a degree left, and W. has some professional aspirations he’s working toward. But those will be achieved or not in the next couple of years, and then… then we keep going. (And get cats. We get cats in a couple of years.)

…I would like to embark upon an elaborate vision quest to ring in my forties. Or at least take a long bath alone. Or sleep for twelve hours between crisp, cool hotel sheets, waking only to order room service.

It wasn’t until I got pregnant that I realized how much I wanted to be alone. Or maybe I finally understood that there are a lot of people in this world who enjoy the company of others more than I do.

This only reads as bitter if you don’t understand that the feral need and desire to absorb my child is so inherent that I’ve forgotten to figure out a decent way to explain that to others.

A world of “yes this.” I spend my days with this immensely engaging, startlingly perfect human, and he is absorbing like nothing else, and also it’s maddening to have someone else’s chatter constantly in your head. So the greatest gift I’ve given myself in the last year were the two times I went to a float spa. For an hour each time, I was in complete darkness and silence. It used to be this would sound terrifying; now, it is a blessed relief. (But the pure sensory deprivation is necessary. If there were background noises of the road or birds or whatever, I think the spell would be broken.)

Last week when a well-meaning family friend asked about the state of my uterus I replied that I plan on riding the Orient Express on my fortieth birthday and unfortunately that journey is not reasonable while catering to the needs of young children.

I had the occasion to hold the 4-month-old baby of a friend from high school over the holidays. (The baby spit up on me. Of course.) As I held that baby, I imagined some parents of three-year-olds would hold this tiny larva of a creature and think “Awww I want another!” I thought, “If I had another, that’d be okay, but I’m not really going to pursue it.” I’ve given so much of me to M. I don’t know if I would have much left for a sibling.

This only reads as selfish if you don’t know that I’ve weighed the feeling of wanting another baby with wanting to fund a reboot of my current baby over and over again.

Yes! I mean, more a reboot of my motherhood than of my baby. Those earliest days in particular I wish I had done differently. But I think you’re in such a haze, so how would you even be able to brain enough to remember what you learned from the first time around?

Maybe what I really want is to appreciate Frida’s past and present selves from a more well-rested vantage point, but I think that’s what being a grandparent is for. For now, Frida begs to see photos of “baby Free-Free” on my phone and we both attempt to wrap our heads around the fact that she was once in my body, then brand new, and now able to articulate her needs so eloquently that I can hardly believe that she once had gills.

When M. was tiny and I thought he was adorable, I had no idea how he would be even more adorable when he was big and looking at a photo of his tiny self and saying “Ohhh so cuuuuute!”

I will spend my entire life shocked that I willed this one person into existence and that she is permanently in on the joke.

So will I, with mine.