I was doing some sort of deep lunge the other day in a yoga class, the kind that makes you feel like you can do anything, even if you have inflexible steel pipe hamstrings and a fear of being upside down like I do, and the music from the yoga teacher’s iPod suddenly got very loud. At least it did for me. She was playing something by Explosions in the Sky. Maybe you heard one of their violently poignant songs on Friday Night Lights? The point is, I heard it and the nostalgia almost tipped me over. And for a minute or two, something great and terrible happened: I re-inhabited the young version of myself, the person I was before I was a mom or a wife or a remotely settled down human being.“Where did I go?” I thought, tears in my eyes, as I reached around for my foot with the wrong hand. I felt lighter, like actually physically unburdened by all my figurative responsibilities, like my baby had been unstrapped from my chest and all my ambitions and anxieties got quiet and everything in my world was small and easy to carry around. It’s not like that’s how it actually was way back when, but, you know, this was a lucid yoga dream.
As I improperly stretched my quadriceps, I existed briefly inside this perfect version of myself — a made-up version that didn’t exist even back when I had no traditional responsibilities —and it was a relief and also very sad.
Motherhood has a knack for, as Sarah Ruhl puts it in her book of essays, obliterating you. But “where did I go?” didn’t feel as much like me looking for my lost self; it felt like me getting sideswiped by your average adult terror: the passage of time. My life had happened. It was happening, yes, but also, a lot of it HAD ALREADY HAPPENED. I was not going to go to yoga class and unfurl my mat quietly and peer around me at the pregnant women and the white-haired women and the imperious woman on a lunch break from her VERY IMPORTANT JOB and wonder, when will I be one of those women? I AM now the woman who maybe some younger version of me is peering at, wondering about. Or maybe no one is looking at me, but either way, I’ve been spending a lot less of my own time peering around. Until Explosions in the Sky punched me in my baby-focused face. It slowed me down, made me notice the way the room smelled like sweat and essential oils, and made me look down at my foot, a foot that was being gently yanked by my wrong hand, the same foot that I’d had at 22, here still and not so ravaged that I didn’t recognize it. I tried not to weep too loudly and not just because I was very close to ripping something out of place in my musculature.
On my way home to my apartment, the out of body business long over, I thought instead about things like, how much frozen fish is too much frozen fish for a 14 month old and how maybe tonight I will call one of the nine people who I’ve avoided calling not because I hate them but because speaking out loud after 7 pm to anyone other than my husband feels like carrying an air conditioner across New York City in July. Whatever happened in that fevered yoga room buried itself from whence it came. Until I started writing this blog post.
My husband and my son are the greatest people I’ve ever met. I like my life. I am lucky. I have people and things that I am so fucking lucky to have. And I find parts of motherhood fascinating — like the way my son lifts up his tent with both hands and goes under to get inside instead of just walking through the open flap — and fulfilling — like when my son says water and I find his cup of water and he takes it with both hands and drinks it. That sounds so tiny, but when it happens, I can’t look away. I feel like he is a genius and I am full of pride. Then he coughs up a bunch of water and I’m still beaming and he’s like, hello, what’s wrong with you?
But then, you know.
I go on Facebook. I mean, I’m posting this blog entry on Facebook, which, like real life, is as wonderful as it is horrible. I see people I kind of know making dreams happen (which often means making lots of money and doing it in an apparently glamorous and public way). I see people I kind of know doing fun things at night, like seeing plays, lots of plays, and performing in comedy shows, lots of comedy shows, because they don’t have a baby or they have a babysitter every night or they are simply a more energetic, can-do parent than I. I see people I kind of know sharing the complexities of their hearts and starting conversations with people they kind of know, ONLINE, and these conversations are profound and beautiful and moving. And I wonder, “what do I do?” What do I have to say? What do I have to show? Everything feels small measured against the breadth of the ever-regenerating news feed.
And yet here I am, writing a mom blog. I am peering around the figurative yoga class of 1 (my kid) and writing about it and wanting you to see me, to peer back at me, to wonder about my life the way I’m wondering about yours. If I am going to be obliterated and if time is going to keep dragging me along with it and surprising me with its speed, then I want to at least know that its happening! I mean, don’t we all want to chronicle where we’re going instead of momentarily getting kidnapped by a romanticized version of our old life, in a day time yoga class, as a gorgeous and emotionally manipulative song compels us to hold our wrong foot?
I need the internet lately. I’m doing a job that no one mails me a check for doing. In spite of reminding myself every day that this job has worth — by winking at my reflection in the bathroom mirror and whispering, “You’re worth it” while my child throws shampoo bottles into the tub next to me — I want you to read this. Wherever I am going, I don’t want to go there alone.