On Maternal Bondage

on 31 July 2009

When I was pregnant, I worried a great deal about "bonding." I wanted the Boy to bond to me. I wanted to bond with him. I wanted us to BOND. And so I fretted about childbirth, and I breastfed as long as I could. I read to him and rocked him and cuddled him and sang to him. I nursed him in bed and napped with him. I walked miles with him.

I have days, particularly when he's teething--which, he's still teething, cutting those two on the top that have lain just under the surface of his gums, painting them purple but not breaking the surface for a MONTH now--and it's the teething that will make you all run and cry, "SAVE YOURSELVES!!!" But I have these days where I fantasize. About a PhD, an office, with a door I can close. Bookshelves lining the walls, filled with books. People who ask what I think and then listen to what I have to say. The pervasive quiet that allows you to hear the air conditioner and the hum of a computer. The ability to read at a desk without a solid head knock knock knocking against the bottom side of the desk, sturdy hands griping fistfuls of my pants to pull himself up on my knees, his expectant little face peering up at me as if to say, "But Mama, but Mama, I am HERE."

A tiny seed of guilt forms in my heart when I have these fantasies, and I shed that guilt and drop it into a little jar that I keep in a drawer in my mind. ping ping ping go the seeds. One day when the Boy is grown, I will plant a garden with those seeds and guilt flowers will bloom to be pollinated by butterflies.

And then, at night, when the house is quiet and dark--just the whirring of the fans--I think over the day in my mind. The things accomplished, others left undone, the books read and read and read again, the games played, the ringing of his laugh in my head, his expressions of puzzlement and delight. And as tired as I am, I smile and want to hold him. Some days are just like that. I want to put a stopper in time and say, "Nope. No progress for you today. Today is mine, to keep him small and funny."

I worried about bonding with him. How little I knew the ties that would bind me. I look at his little body. He is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh--my body made his body, fed it, nurtured it, protected it. I am bound with living ties, in blood and nerves.

I wonder sometimes about those mothers who adopt...how much stronger their ties must be. I had forty weeks. They have been searching and working for that child for years.

He will grow up. Oh he will, time is fickle and I cannot stop him. He will go out into the world and live. And that is what I want. I want him to live. I want him to experience life, even though I know that it means that he will be hurt. That is what it means to live, and I would not have him remain a child forever knock knock knocking to be let in to the world of adulthood. But I am curious. I wonder what he will see with his eyes that I have not seen with mine. I wonder what he will hear, that I chose not to hear because I so loved the quiet. I wonder who he will love and lose and what he will learn from those experiences.

I know. I know that that time is coming. But today? Today is mine.

8 comments:

Tori said...

Corbin has definitely bonded more with her daddy than with me, and I'm so jealous, but she's always so pleased to see me, too. I love seeing her grow up and watching her learn...and sometimes, when the idea of having another one creeps up into the back of my mind...I remember teething!!! LOL, it is so horrible! We've got molars coming in right now and it's rough. But she's a very sassy and very determined baby, so she tries not to let it get to her.

Your little baby is sooooooo cute. And I'm sure pictures really don't do him justice!

Kristin said...

Beautiful post! I share similar fantasies. The most difficult part about my being a mother is dealing with the mundane and constant tasks (dishes, laundry, tantrums, diapers, diapers, diapers). This is what makes those fantasies so beautiful. I love sharing moments with my children, hearing their laughter, kissing their scraped knees, but why, oh why, all the laundry?

Kristin said...

I forgot the reason I began to comment in the first place, The BOY, I love this picture.! It reminded me of Alastair Sim in, A Christmas Carol...the wisp of hair, of course. Love it.

Sarah said...

This makes my heart happy. I'm so glad you didn't take that job, which sounded like a nightmare waiting to happen. Because really, the time will come when we will have too much time to ourselves. But for now we are right where we need to be.

Isn't life grand?

Katrina said...

beautiful!

and this: "One day when the Boy is grown, I will plant a garden with those seeds and guilt flowers will bloom to be pollinated by butterflies." You are awesome.

Whimsy said...

So very fantastic and beautiful.

the MuLLinS said...

I can't even handle you. Thank you for putting into words what I just can't. I'm sobbing all over my keyboard and I just love you to pieces. (I after E)

Rae said...

So lovely. Now I'm weepy at the library as a tiny seed of guilt for leaving my sick child at home with his father grows in my heart. Really, though, lovely.