Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Whole Mama Prompt: Space

Today's post is my second while participating in the #WholeMama linkup. You can find the linkup for this week's theme, "Space", here on Esther Emery's blog. More information on what #WholeMama is all about can be found here. My other posts as part of the linkup or just inspired by the theme are Prayer and A Supermom is a Sleep-Deprived Mom.

#WholeMama Prompt: Space on Stress and Stars

There are days I just want some space.

I'm not exactly an introvert, but I'm not an extrovert either - I love parties of six people or less, I love having brunch out with a friend, but get too many people in the room and you'll find me in the corner curled up with a book, steadfastly existing inside my own head. I like it there; I know the landscape.

The map of other people is one that is much harder for me to follow. Those directions I never trust - I'm always convinced I've said the wrong thing or mucked up the plans.

I've been a reader all my life. Books are safer than people, and I've been friends with them longer than any one human being.

Having a child has been a rough change, an overnight shift from going through a book or two week to this new place where I basically just threw myself a mini-celebration because I actually managed to finish a library book and only had to renew it once instead of the two or three times the rest of them have taken. The important thing is, I finished the freaking book, and I even remember most of it!

I get all full of myself when I finish a book now. I pick up Lauren Winner's new book Wearing God, which I've been eyeballing for weeks now, absolutely convinced that I will definitely have the time to read it.

We take our victories where we find them these days.

I find my space where I can get it, too.

Space right now is the hour between Audra going to sleep and when Jason and I need to go to bed (if we know what's good for us). It's time I spend saying as little as possible, drinking tea and trying to get a chapter or two out of a book before my eyes stop staying open, playing video games or just staring at nothing. It doesn't refresh. I don't really feel better the next day. I still wear down and wear down and wear down until the idea of leaving the house and actually interacting with someone voluntarily sounds like it would take more energy than I could ever have.

Sometimes I make plans for breakfast or brunch or lunch with friends and I'm afraid I may just lie down and take a nap in the street.

With our plans for multiple children, I know what I'm in for; I grew up with older siblings and I know my mother felt some days like the demands were never-ending. I feel like that, too, and I only have one who can't even talk yet.

She also can't really play very well by herself. She needs us to invent the novelty that keeps her interested in the things around her. The games she plays mostly involve trying to smash one of her toys into another, slightly different toy, or discovering exactly which places in the room we don't want her to get into and then making elaborately planned attempts to get there. If I make the terrible mistake of trying to read while she's awake for fifteen seconds, I'll find her halfway down the hall, making a beeline for the dog's water bowl in the kitchen.

When she's sick or just had her shots or didn't sleep well or any other number of things that throw off her cheery smile and have me home from work with her, she'll whine every time I put her down all day long until I'm ready to tear my hair out. How can a child so expertly whine when they don't even have language yet?

I hold her anyway.

I carry her on my hip on circular walks around the yard, or we lay down on the couch and I stare at TV shows I forget within five minutes of them airing while she rests, ready to pop awake and angry the moment I move around to get comfortable or dare lay her ailing self down in her actual bed.

I let her rest her head under my chin, her ear over my heartbeat, while I catch a few furtive paragraphs out of my newest book when she closes her eyes.

On a normal day, I come home from work and pick her up from daycare, or Jason does. During her afternoon nap, Jason and I cook and do chores like we've lost our minds, working as fast as we can so that when she wakes up we're not risking another might-burn-the-house-down-frying-chicken scenario which I may or may not deny ever happened.

She wakes up shortly after our dinner time, so we feed her and bathe her and play with her and get her into bed and then spend another ten minutes picking up the tornado-like path of toys, catalogs she's torn to shreds, and discovering the interesting possessions of ours she has somehow managed to get into despite them being blocked by the heaviest furniture in the house.

Then, she's asleep, or at least in her bed talking to her Rexi and Riff Raff and Holly Bear. She's in bed, and it's that hour between her bedtime and ours, that's where I have to claw back some space in my head.

Even if it means I don't talk. Even if I just look at nothing, or the TV, or a book or literally anything at all that doesn't require me to move or interact with it in any serious way. It's not really enough - I still take the occasional Saturday or Sunday morning, disappearing for a couple of hours while Audra's home with Jason. I sit in a coffee shop or have breakfast with a friend or just wander aimlessly around our city's downtown and I do nothing at all. I wonder how I'm going to get through the "why" stage if I can barely handle the "suspicious silence" stage.

I do nothing, in these moments out by myself or just alone with Jason while Audra stays with her grandparents, that I don't absolutely feel like doing.

No small body curled against my own. No following around insistent little hands discovering every single plugged-in cord in the whole house. No little girl demanding a drink and then smacking the cup away two seconds later.

I will go a whole two hours without saying the words, "Are you supposed to be doing that?"

Then, on my drive back home, finally feeling like a human being and person, full of things I've learned or conversations I've had, I start thinking about how nice it'll be to have another baby.

I daydream idly about newborns, and having another one, and introducing Audra to her new sibling and all the wonderful soft-focus parts of navigating life with two children as opposed to one.

Then I make it home, and four hours later find myself mournfully hitting "renew" on the library's website while my daughter smacks me in the face with her sippy cup.


Yes, I totally want to do this three more times.

... I can read Lauren Winner's book when they go to college, right?

Whole Mama


  1. Katie, it sounds like your days are pretty full. It's hard to carve out that space when you have a little one. I'm glad you are able to get some time away. Hey, I just saw that you are from upstate SC. So am I! I live in Sunset about 35 minutes from downtown Greenville. Small world, isn't it?

    1. One of the things I love most about the internet is how it proves how overlapping our lives really are!

  2. Katie, you had me at parties with people of 6 or less. Grateful for your words.

    1. I don't know how people can handle large parties. It just makes me want to dig myself a hole in the yard to hide in.

  3. "Having a child has been a rough change, an overnight shift from going through a book or two week to this new place where I basically just threw myself a mini-celebration because I actually managed to finish a library book and only had to renew it once instead of the two or three times the rest of them have taken."

    Hahaha, I know this feeling all to well. Thanks for your words. :)

  4. Books are my friends, too. So I still have a bunch on my nightstand, partially read, waiting indefinitely to be finished. It can take me months. My attention span got really short after mothering tinies for so long, so I'm slowly building back to the ability to read more than a blog post-length segment. It's like relearning a skill I once had long ago and far, far away. It's coming back slowly, but surely, so I'm celebrating that. :)

    1. YES. I read blogs so often since Audra was born and I think it's just trying to get my reading-fix in when my attention span kind of stalls out when it comes to a book-length narrative. Ah, well. As long as I keep reading, right?

  5. A very wise friend said to me upon the birth of our first, "Kids sure don't make life any easier, but they sure make it a whole lot better." It's stuck with me ever since, because having babies has turned EVERY PART OF MY world upside down ...but I think for the better.

    1. I think I definitely have more intense feelings than I did before motherhood. Not that I didn't have intense emotions before, but there is no intensity of happiness greater than the first time your daughter blows you a kiss.


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