RedCloud has improved enough to allow space in my brain for other thoughts – mostly, reflection upon my own state of being, and how intense and familiar it feels to be utterly obsessed with the bio-psycho-social-emo-spiritual condition of another living thing. I am riding the waves of nostalgia, remembering how it felt to become a mother. It was remarkably similar.
My daughter is sixteen; it has been sixteen years since I have felt these feelings in such high relief. There is a looping back quality to it all – a full circle that isn’t a circle, but a spiral. I’m here again, but it isn’t here, it’s here+. Back then, becoming a mom was overwhelming, terrifying, and reeked of abandonment: I felt like I had been abandoned by my “normal life.” I was frozen between Have To and Can’t and eventually found my way out by becoming obsessed: I wrote constantly about my experience, filling notebooks and journals, and filling friends’ ears with my endless words about diapers and cracked nipples and “fussy” (aka brain-splitting screaming) times. I talked myself through it.
There was no internet back then – at least not for the likes of me. There was no email, no Facebook, no “working mom blogs” to check, to see if my experience could find any resonance elsewhere in the world. There was only the “bible”: What to Expect When You’re Expecting, which I read repeatedly. Obsessively. Looking for words that would tell me I was ok, and when not finding them, doubling back and reading all the words again, memorizing them.
Of course I know now how universal my post partum depression was. Mine wasn’t all that severe and didn’t last very long – the weeks of crying because of a radio commercial (there was a popular one at the time for health insurance that referred to sick children – all I needed to hear was the opening music and I was weeping) were relatively few. Maya’s father remembers that I kept apologizing for everything, and when he asked what I thought I had done, I would just cry some more and apologize for that. I was weeping for a life that ended. I was mourning the end of being Not A Mom. Funny that at the time no one saw that clearly enough to name it for me and give me permission to do so.
The post partum craziness is different this time around but the obsession is the same. I have taken on a new family member – however permanent or temporary he ends up being, he is here now and we are his family. We are opening our hearts to him and is it a process that – I’ll say it again – no matter how thoroughly I tried to prepare for it, I am unprepared.
The obsession – my relentless focus on the mundane doings of this very sick little boy – is so familiar. The onslaught of words filling blog posts and conversations and Facebook walls is testament to my effort to deal with the pain and joy and just plain bigness of opening my heart to someone new. Because he has been so sick, becoming a dogmom this time around has been very different from my prior times. Because he is now healing, I have the luxury to reflect upon how I have been handling all this.
The internet has been an invaluable tool. A lifeline, allowing help and support to pour in via Facebook and email, and a tool for keeping Red’s cheerleaders informed of his score, the web has done its thing, keeping us informed and connected. Amazing. When things got really bad – the day I spent checking that he was still breathing in between meals and emptying out after meals – I upgraded to using the phone to call upon the strangers I now count as friends: Sara in Florida and Barbara, my new vet. Their experience and groundedness helped immeasurably.
And, as is the way of such things, the moment of urgency is passing and other things will seep back into my life. We (Tom, Iske Lily and I) will go hiking tomorrow. Maya will stay home on RedCloud duty. I will write that article I have promised Formidable Females (the political blog I claim to write for), and do some research and rabble rousing about natural gas drilling in the Marcelllus Shale formation. I will work all week, leaving Red home with Tom, to drink beer and putter. I will roast those Brussels sprouts and freeze the chicken stock. Life will go back to being “normal” with one HUGE exception: no matter where I look, I will see a dog. Three is exponentially greater than two.