Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dear Stella,

I am writing to you to let you know that I no longer identify with you. I so appreciated bumping into you and the time we spent having adult conversation and using our brains in ways I hadn't used mine since B.S. (before Sabine). I think you are beautiful and wise and successful and so stylish. Your British accent really lent something to our exchanges, too. It made me feel like I'd gone somewhere other than just down the street.

We talked about how difficult having children was--even though you don't have any. It was nice to be able to be completely honest with you, someone who listened and liked that I said these things:

"I would've been just as happy had I not had any children at all."

"I think you can live a beautifully full and satisfying life without having children."

"Everybody tells you how wonderful it is and they don't tell you how awful it can be, too."

Making such statements made you comfortable enough to tell me about the children who ruin your lunch because they are loud or crying. Or about the mothers you see who are on the phone, seemingly ignoring their child. Here's the thing, Stella. The crying or the loud volume, they ruin my lunch, too. But kids cry. And sometimes they are loud, but so are adults. And those mothers on the phone? They are not ignoring their child. Or at least I'm not. I am with Sabine around the clock every single day, giving her practically everything I have. So if she gets upset when I am on the phone, or if I don't answer her right away, that's okay.

I still believe what I told you. You don't have to have children to be happy and satisfied with life. But I think that now I am a kind of happy I would've never been without having Sabine. I am patient with her in ways I never thought I'd be. I have a colossal capacity to soothe her emotionally and physically, and when I do, it feels better than anything I've ever felt. To know that I can give so enormously makes me realize that I was loved in gargantuan amounts (something I was rarely conscious of before becoming a mother).

And to receive the amount of unselfconscious, unconditional and unadulterated affection that Sabine floods me with almost every single day, well, it's a wondrous, warm, magnificent thing. It makes your nerve endings come alive again. I can feel things in ways I haven't felt for a long time.

And because she is so fearless and crashes head first, eyes and arms wide open, into EVERYTHING, life is bigger and blindingly brilliant. Things smell and taste better. Each day, I can't wait to run around with her until we are out of breath and laugh until our sides ache. Laying next to or holding Sabine in my arms feels better, more luxurious than any king-size goose down comforter, or even, two whole weeks at a Four Seasons in some mind-blowing tropical location.

Thank you, again, for the escape and for being a receptacle for my complaining. But I always knew I loved her and that I'd come out of the feels-impossible part and into the still-difficult-but-also-feels-like-dopamine part of parenthood. Well, I'm there now. And I think you are still where you were. So maybe our paths will meet again, but for now, I'm soaking in the splendor and your words and gripes are flying right over my head.

Take care. And don't call me; I'll call you.
Top image via Observando


Miss A said...

What a sweet picture. It's funny but before I admitted to wanting kids, I was also the complainig friends. But my friends never indulged me and instead made me their on call babysitter, and I bitched about it but enjoyed every moment spent with those sweet sweet kids.
Don't let this come between you. It's okay that she feels this way. She's not so much criticizing you as just probably trying to make the best of being childless (even if by choice, society isn't kind on childless women). Take care and enjoy your Sabine. She's so precious.

Debra said...

Popping over from the wonderful Miss A's blog to say hello. Your daughter is lovely, absolutely lovely and everything that you say about her makes you lovely, too. I have four daughters which makes me incredibly partial to girls and to being a mother, as well. Honestly, there was never a day in my conscious life when I didn't visualize myself becoming a mother. For me, it was always a need and never really a choice. I could have gone on to have a fifth child except that number one, my doctor told me more than four C-sections could be very dangerous to my health(I had four) and number two, my dear husband was FINISHED and quite content with four. But there are days now that we are both quickly approaching 50 that we talk about adopting an older child...Just when things are getting a lot easier and we are almost finished being responsible for anyone other than ourselves!

As for your friend, we change, some of us at different rates and some of us, maybe never. I had to make some breaks once I became a momma. When you have a child, it is often necessary to make a clearing in one's life.

Enjoy your beautiful little angel daughter!

Laura Mauk said...

@MissA, You are right. And I definitely have compassion or perspective when it comes to having and not having children. I didn't have Sabine until I was 38 and there were times when I thought I would never get married or have children. And I have a handful of friends who have none or just one child...and lots of friends who aren't basking in motherhood necessarily. I think that for me, this Dear Stella post, was sort of about coming clean to myself mostly, about how I'm finally enjoying motherhood instead of it kicking my ass (I really really struggled when Sabine was first born--was so lonely and exhausted and didn't think I could manage it). I'm usually pretty sarcastic, dry and somewhat jaded. So this was my sappy way of letting go and indulging in the warmth and the goodness--finally.

Laura Mauk said...

@Debra Such wise words and so nice to hear about your experience. Really. I think that the blog world is about a million times more rich and productive because I am hearing perspectives from people that have such varied experiences and it makes you think, have compassion...overall, makes me a better person.

I don't think I thought that I or my life would change as much as it has since having a child. How could I have known that? It was at first terrifying. But as I was writing to MissA, I think I'm finally coming into the feels wonderful part of it...and am just so thankful for that.


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