sideways rabbit

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I Gave Him Love, He Gave Me Sleep

They say motherhood changes you. This is profoundly true--too profound to articulate, really. "I never knew I could love someone so much" -- true. It's been said, and I can't say it any better. So, for Mother's Day, I'm going to muse on three other, rather mysterious ways motherhood changed me. Was it having a baby so big he sailed off all pediatric charts by eight weeks old? Was it that jolly toddler who defied generations of pessimists on every branch of his family tree? Hard to say. But my mind, body, and spirit have certainly never been the same.


BM (Before Motherhood):


1) I didn't sleep. From age 9 to age 35, I worried about not sleeping way more than I actually slept. I read books about insomnia, took pills, consulted traditional therapists and hypnotherapists, tried homeopathic remedies, and contemplated the worst. A biofeedback specialist told me I had the same level of muscle tension as a person who'd suffered an industrial accident. I had lots of ineffectual "therapeutic" massages, and one terrible breakdown.


2) I was nervous. Nervous when I was a kid, nervous when I was a young adult, nervous all the time. Nervous as a wild rabbit in a cattery. I fretted. I wrung my hands until I popped my wrists out of joint. I paced so hard I wore a groove in the hardwood of an apartment floor -- a groove I had to pay for. I was skinny. Did I mention I didn't sleep?


3) I was shy. Morbidly so. Called upon to give my opinion in a college class, way back in the early '90s, I feigned old-fashioned muteness. In certain situations, I simply couldn't speak at all. Wine, beer, and rum helped this situation. Until I became unaccountably allergic to all of them.



AM (After Motherhood):


1) I started sleeping, and now I can't stop. I am as narcoleptic as a kitten. I crave naps the way some people crave salt or guns or liquor or religion or secret websites. From the age of 1 to 3 my son took four-hour-solid naps every afternoon. I napped too, and somehow I caught it -- some sort of somnambulatory virus. Long after he outgrew napping, I carried the wavering torch. I stumble through every day in search of a blank hour and any reasonable mattress.


2) I still worry, but there's an ocean floor of perspective underneath. I move much slower. My body is completely different. D boobs are one significant, unexpected alteration. Where they came from I'll never know. But it's hard to pace the floor when you have a milkmaid's figure. I'll take a wooden stool instead. With a pillow--for napping.


3) Except in a few select situations, I am no longer shy. I just don't give a frickin' flip. I'll say anything -- try me. I read poetry in front of strangers. I talk on radio shows. I'll talk about anything, anywhere and anytime. I rudely interrupt dear friends so I can have my say. I exhaust myself and others. I have a hard time shutting up.


Except, of course, when it's time for a nice nap.


  1. Love this and you! Happy Mother's Day Melanie ~Carmen

  2. Thanks Carmy! And the same to you! XOXOXO

  3. Oh my goodness - I was so #2 too!!! Now, not so much. My little man is 5 now. I worry, but not like what I used to. That hand wringing worry.
    Wow! Good connections!!!

  4. My little guy's five too. Thanks for your comment--kindred spirits for sure :)