When I brought my first baby home from the hospital, I was working freelance as a music publicist. It was March and snowing in Portland. Prime advertising and promotion season for the upcoming summer festivals. Most of what I remember about those early days is me in a denim-colored glider, eight pounds of baby Roxie on my body, a stack of papers by my side and, as often as not, a phone in my hand. But I rarely dialed it.
I had this daydream while I was pregnant: the baby asleep for hours beside me while I wrote or worked on promo. The house all cozy quiet. And I’m pretty sure there were bluebirds on my shoulder and forest creatures singing while they cleaned.
You know, the kind of delusions you have before you actually have kids.
But Roxie’s version didn’t include sleep. There were no forest creatures. I worked in any tiny space I could carve. And the only one singing was me.
Reality doesn’t care about blueprints.
But it was good training. From day one, mothering was about the balance and challenge of puzzling every loose piece of life together into a bigger whole where everyone’s needs were met. Making it all fit.
I rocked her for hours to songs I made up on the spot, certain I’d forever remember every long since forgotten word. I tried to memorize the feel of her tiny body on mine, but I knew even then that I’d be left with what I have today: a kid the same size as me and the memory of trying to hold onto that feeling with no trace of the actual sensation.
There’s been plenty to hold on to in the 12 years since that snowy spring. And plenty to let go of, too. Joy and pain and transitions. Life. My husband and I had a second daughter, Lila, a couple years after Roxie. We split while our girls were preschoolers, reunited the summer before Roxie started first grade, split again and finally divorced. Transformed from spouses to 50-50 joint custody, co-parents.
We’ve gone from navigating first steps and loose teeth to first zits and lost electronics. Toddlers to tweens. In that time, I’ve worked as a publicist, journalist, writer and pie baker, constantly bending my work hours around my girls’ schedules and forever waking before dawn to write.
With all the change, one thing remains the same. I’m still sitting in my denim-colored glider trying to get a few words down before mom duty calls.
Pull up a seat and join me. There’s plenty of tween life to explore.
Photo credit: Holly Goodman