We’re at home again today, the second snow day in a row. It’s quiet and festive, almost Christmas. I’ve been thinking a lot about this time six years ago, when I was great with my own child and filling the house my husband and I had just purchased with soft flannel blankets, diapers, mobiles of butterflies and boats.
We had only lived in Tennessee around six months when I got pregnant. The only friends I had were the girls at work – a veritable gaggle of true Tennessee girls with sports cars, fake tans, and sweet tea habits. I wasn’t used to girls like these girls. I was used to girls in music halls, girls who traded makeup and cigarettes and war paints. The girls at work were practical, with savings accounts. They didn’t have paint under their fingers or rows of half-filled journals. They fell asleep naturally and with grace, not fitfully with their heads crashing into a novel. So these girls weren’t really girls that I could confide in, to say the least.
Another girl at work was almost simultaneously pregnant… but she was mean, mean, mean. She once made fun of the length of my earrings. She was 21 and had become pregnant on her honeymoon. I was 25 and had lived with my husband for over five years, over two years as husband and wife. Our nest was feathered in white and black and red. Hers was properly orchestrated by her hawkish mother.
We made vague plans to get “the babies” together after they made their entrance into light. I inwardly rolled my eyes when she started wearing maternity clothes when she was ten weeks along, clutching her stomach and rubbing it like a Buddha when she wasn’t yet showing (and wouldn’t ever show much). I pretty much knew there wouldn’t be a friendship after we had our babies. We were both nestled in our own warm little homes after our babies came but it was obvious we wouldn’t be spending cold Tuesday mornings drinking coffee while our babies kicked in bouncy seats or snoozed in papooses. We were so different. She didn’t like creative earrings, and all.
When Xander was about two months old, and the dreamy afterglow lifted to reveal a whole big world outside of our house, I decided I should get some mom friends to socialize with. Holding Xander in the crook of my arm I would gently type and peck and hunt around on yahoo groups and meetup.com, trying to find some like-minded women and men who happened to have infants. My quiet, lonely-girl goal was to create my own little village, since my natural, maternal village was 300 miles away. The pursuit would prove odd, bewildering, humorous, and eventually fruitful.
I don’t often write about my early days of motherhood. Maybe I feel like similar stories have been written ad nauseum all over the internet and the publishing world – especially lately. I’ve felt nudged recently though, to tear out old journals and examine my son’s face for memories of those whisper-quiet times when we were the only people in the world. Francesca Lia Block writes in her memoir of early motherhood Guarding the Moon, “But I feel fearless. With love. We are one again for now.”
Xander is growing up. He’s making wide gestures and nodding his head with his friends, deep in conversation with them. He’s starting to resist my probably incessant hugs. He’s starting to seek out my husband more and go off in his own world. A world of boys running wild and barbaric yawping and bug-squashing. I want to remember when we could just be quiet together, when we were the only ones in the world. I wouldn’t think of holding him back from his own way.