Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Satellite of Love

I had a job, once. I showered every day, used the bathroom without interruption, talked to people on the phone without a screaming baby grabbing my leg and asking to talk to “Daddy...DADDAAAY!”
I went to an office. I commuted alone and listened to the radio in my car. Usually, I listened to the news, but sometimes I listened to a rock song or morning chat. I chose whatever station I wanted, and wasn’t shouted at from behind by anyone strapped into a car seat to say that it was, “La-la-loud,’s too la-la-loud.’  
I had an adult schedule. I did my work, attended meetings, went to the bathroom (alone and as often as necessary), went for lunch with “the girls” or did some shopping during my break.
After work, I sometimes met people for drinks. Or I went home for dinner. Or I met my husband at a restaurant and we got a meal. I came and went as I pleased. The only demands placed on me were placed there by my job or me.
I remember Saturday afternoons. We had an apartment near the centre of Dublin, and I used to walk into town: down Leeson Street, through St. Stephen’s Green past the children and jugglers and Spanish exchange students littering the lawns, over the bridge, stopping to admire the ducks, out the gate and onto Grafton Street. Sometimes, I went all the way up to Henry Street. Other times, I went through the Powers Court shopping centre, out the other side, then, nipping in and out of little shops, I made my way over to George’s Street. I browsed, at leisure. I shopped. I remember sometimes meeting female friends for lunch, a mooch through a shop, drinks even. The weekends...gosh, I remember the weekends. Unless there was some reason to wake up early, we didn’t. We just woke up...whenever. Breakfast in bed, and Sunday papers read from cover to cover.
I consider my life before I had kids as “my single life.” I was married, but that’s not what I’m referring to. I mean I was physically single. A sole person. Unique. Just one of me. I was integrated, not disparate. I took walks. I got exercise when I wanted. I spent all my money on me, or on my house, or on my husband. I was not a mommy.
A mommy is intrinsic as opposed to unique (‘unique’ in the original sense of the word). By becoming a mother, I became part of a system: a system of humans who gravitate around each other, held together by the forces of need and love. As the stay-at-home-mommy I am an intrinsic part of this system. I am the orbiting space station which ensures laundry is done, food is prepared, diapers are changed, and people are cared for. I am docked with for hugs and kisses. Sometimes for hair pulling or thumps in the nose.
Moving a system full of dynamic, moving parts that are constantly experiencing the extreme forces of HUNGER and POTTY and HE TOOK MY TOY THAT’S WHY I HIT HIM is, at best, slow. Putting this in the context of my single, unique Lory days: we would not achieve a walk, and shopping, and lunch, and drinks etc., etc. in one afternoon. We would make it as far as the park, and then have to stop for lunch and find a bush for someone to pee in (not me). Shopping is not possible with human systems consisting of the under-fours. The whole gravitational pull thing gets thrown off kilter, warped by the attraction of shiny objects and sweets. The system falls apart. Children fly off in every direction. The mommy must collect them, strap them into buggies or haul them by the arm back to the car or bus.
I’m not complaining. I know the story: don’t wish their lives away; they’ll grow up soon enough. I know they will, and I dread it. Because then what will I do? Wander into town...alone? Shop...alone? Read the papers, cover to cover? Drinks with friends? It sounds fantastic, but I actually dread the freedom, and when I get even thirty minutes of it, I don’t know what to do with myself. All plans for relaxation and fun fly out the window. I anxiously stare at my phone.  It all seems so pointless and boring: the shopping, the sleeping in, the relaxing, when I know little people lie in wait. That being unique business, after having been the very essential part of a human system, seems a million miles away. Like a space station circling the earth. I know I’ll be unique again someday. In the meantime, I’m intrinsic.


  1. New follow from Twittermoms.

  2. Hi Lory...I have just been introduced to your blog via facebook. You have put your finger neatly on the pulse of my existence as a mammy and described it! I like your style of writing, thank you for putting a big grin on my face this bank holiday morning as I furrow my brow about what dinner might be today and anticipate the onslaught of what-are-we-doing-today-can-we-paint? from my three girls!


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