Last week I introduced Janet to Facebook. She did not realize that this was part of my grand scheme for keeping her here. Now when her family comes looking for her on Friday, I plan to tell them that she became involved with an old love from Trinidad, asked for a cash advance and left before they arrived.
Now I need some type of medication that might make her forget everyone she knew before she met us.
When I tell her about my plan, she just laughs. "You are so funny, Michelle."
"Janet, you have no idea what I am capable of."
Monday, June 29, 2009
"I hated our grandmother," my cousin, Jill, told me today. "I remember one day when I was about three and she and I were sitting on our back stoop, I told her that she should just leave because I knew she didn't like me."
"You're right," my grandmother apparently said in response. "I don't like you but I like your brother."
Friday, June 26, 2009
Today before I brought Onni in for another chemo session, I noticed that Janet had packed up most of her belongings to bring home with her for the weekend. I stood outside of her door staring at her bags and boxes, realizing more fully than I have in previous weeks that she really is leaving next week and not just for a few days. All the way to the cancer center, I fought back tears; I needed to stay focused on Onni.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Photos are possessing me. I stumbled upon some beautiful maternity and newborn photos on-line after a quick google search for photographers in my area and now I torture myself daily for not inputting that search before my son was born. For someone who leans on photos the way that I do, I cannot imagine that I would have spent so much time researching organic cribs and bedding and not professional portraits or tips on photographing children and infants. Every night I bewitch myself into a trance, hoping to slip back in time and coax my pregnant self to initiate this inquiry and safeguard my sanity. But I cannot turn back time and so I agonize a thousand times a day why didn't I?
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
A few weeks ago I showed Janet the only photo I have of myself as an infant. It is black and white and worn, making us look as if we are from another time entirely. My grandmother cradles this baby tenderly. The expression on her face is serious and pensive, and though she is not quite smiling, she is not unhappy either. I am bald with a round face and bundled in something soft and warm and swaddled inside another blanket. One hand is closed in a fist, the other rests on my grandmother's shoulder, fingers extended. I look straight at the camera. I don't see myself in this baby. Perhaps the large eyes, held wide. For years I have coveted this photo, the fact that someone captured my grandmother and I yielding to each other.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
More and more as I write this blog, I find myself preoccupied and dreaming about what needs to be written. I can hardly sleep at night, my mind engaged at all times, hearing the words accumulate one and then another until there is a sentence, a passage, growing steadily, a story taking shape.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Janet opened the door to my bedroom and threw Sasha at me, then stormed away. The next night, she sent three men to try to kill me. Onni alerted me when the car pulled up. I grabbed Sasha and with the dogs trailing behind, we raced out through the front door into the woods. I didn't stop running until I reached Polly's house. The door was open. We rushed up the stairs into her bedroom and crawled into the small cubbie space. There I felt safe, but for how long?
Friday, June 19, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
A mother fills you, soothes you, teaches you harmony and safety, dispenses wisdom and concern, shows you the sheer wonder of the world, provides logic and truth, receives you as you are, tends to you, cradles you, and loves you always. This is the mother story I tell myself, the one many of my friends thinks is illusion.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Days as a new mother pass quickly. Though I gained experience and confidence cultivating my mother skills with Janet beside me, sometimes I felt a desperation, even an anguish when Sasha had problems I seemingly could not fix. I found myself watching Janet at all times-- when she encouraged me to hold him in my arms versus placing him in his basket, studying her every response and movement to his distressed cries, taking in how she looked so relaxed when all I could muster was a pang of fear. Where I analyzed everything, Janet showed me the beauty of the moment.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Early on in my time with Janet, a friend asked me when Janet was going to leave. She said that I would never learn to be a mother as long as Janet was here, that I had to find my own way and that it couldn't happen if I was following someone else's system and protocol. I wondered if this was true? Must I sink or swim on my own to become a good mother?
Monday, June 15, 2009
Several of my friends had told me that they were never fully women until they were mothers. I am new to motherhood and yet already it is difficult to seperate myself from this state of being. I am a mother. I have been since we conceived our son. My body is no longer mine. It is ours for as long as my body is Sasha's only source of nourishment. At times the sensations in my breasts make me feel more like an appliance gone haywire than a flesh and blood human. But I have no regrets. No matter how many times I look at my son, I still feel an awe that he is my baby.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Like a young child excited to find her parent in wait, I always look forward to coming home and filling Janet in on my time away. I used to wonder if she had any interest in all of my talk, now it feels so natural to me to tell her whatever is on my mind, I can't stop myself from rushing through the door to see her.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I am terrified of my birthday. Not so much because I am growing older, though this is becoming more the case now than it ever has been, but because I am certain that everyone will forget that today is a day to celebrate my life. To combat this, I am usually fully prepared to purchase my own gifts, plan my own parties, make the big deal of myself that I am sure no one else will. Except for the fact that Aaron will--if I give him the opportunity.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Today is my first birthday as a mom. Last year I was pregnant on my birthday and had most of my closest friends gathered around me as I celebrated. Two days later, I miscarried. Now I have my baby bundled in my arms. He is real, substantial--the perfect gift. For years I spent all of my time conjuring motherhood--thinking, imagining, dreaming, writing--now I am a mother and have less time to contemplate. Now it is all in the living. One day becomes the next and the one after that and we are together learning how to be mother and son. I anchor myself in his growth and he in turn does the same for me; I am transformed by him, incalculably, wonderfully, undeniably.
Monday, June 8, 2009
When I am with someone who could even play at being a mother to me, I tend to push them away rather than embrace them. I hadn't realized this until I placed my ad for a mother. With each arrival of a mother figure, new walls arise within me as if mother is someone to guard against. It seems I cannot be vulnerable in the face of rejection, humiliation or loss and this is what comes to mind when I think of my mother or grandmother. And yet I invited someone into my home to be my mentor, my second set of hands, my mother figure when I might be at my most fragile physically and emotionally.
Friday, June 5, 2009
When I was 18 weeks pregnant, Aaron decided we should hire a mother for additional support during my postpartum weeks. With no mother, sister, aunts, cousins, or friends able to make such a commitment, we realized that I would be short on the female guidance and nurturing I so craved. Though I had flirted with the idea of posting for a mother under Help Wanted in the Village Voice, I wasn't sure how I felt about hiring someone to help me care for our newborn. Certainly the idea of a mother by my side encouraging me, comforting me, teaching me how to attend to my baby's basic needs was seductive. But hiring a complete stranger when I was at my most vulnerable--I wasn't sure if I dared.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Today my son turned three month's old and I finally remembered to pick up a copy of his birth certificate from the Town Hall. After declaring his name, birth date, address, and my own name, the form requested my relationship to the applicant. For a moment I paused. For years, I've written self or wife, but today was the first time I have ever written mother. As I wrote each beautiful letter--mother--I could not stop smiling. I still am.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Whenever I need to remind myself that the significance of a mother's love is not myth, even for a grown woman, I turn to my friend Lisa. "My mother will do anything for me," she told me this weekend as I drove her back to my house from the airport. "I have never doubted that. Never. Not for a second."
Monday, June 1, 2009
What happens to a woman when she longs to be a mother? For a time I was in the club of motherhood but suddenly I banded with those wild, desperate women, exhausted, nearly destroyed, having forgotten what it means to be female and fertile, afloat on encouragement month after month with no success, needing a hand to hold, terrified that we will never reach that state of motherhood or reach it again.