Nic and I just got back from a pretty whirlwind trip. We hit up L.A., and Chicago, and, well…every state in between there as well, when we decided to drive back, instead of taking another 5-hour flight with our baby.
“Our baby.” His name is Oliver, but I often refer to him as ‘our baby’ and ‘the baby.’ How odd. I must still be trying to accept that he is here.
In L.A., I attended a writing conference. Nic tried to keep Oliver busy at the hotel. I walked up and down an L.A. mile, thinking about nothing but my own trajectory. Look at the speed of your feet, Kel, I’d think, proudly. My body was free from the weight of him, flailing in my arms, or tacked onto my front. Freebird.
Back in Chicago, Oliver went where we went. Meeting up with old friends, I’d struggle to pay attention to them, while wondering what he was sneaking into his mouth and if his face – at any given moment – told a story of pleasure or pain. My eyes would dart from left to right, left to right. I’d gauge the appropriate amount of attention to pay to each. I’d hope I’d done a good job.
I’m uncomfortable. A lot of the time. Most of the time.
I can’t quite decide how happy to be. How much should I allow me?
I’m so glad I became a mother, and yet I can feel my hands outstretched, wanting to tackle the lives of my childless friends. What have I lost? How much have I lost?
But the answer to the question is not a quantity. The answer to the question ‘How much have I lost?’ is just another question.
And that question is, of course: ‘How much have I gained?’