Monday, November 08, 2004

Freedom's Just Another Word For Nothin' Left To Lose

In graduate school, I could load the back of my car and trunk up with all my possessions. I only did it for the drive home during summer and Christmas break. But I used to love the idea that I could, at a moment’s notice, pack up and be gone. It didn’t matter that I never drove to New York City or LA or across the country on the Trip of a Lifetime (which involved me with my hair streaming out behind me in an old, pink, convertible Cadillac. Then I saw Thelma and Louise and changed my mind). The point was that I answered to no one and could, theoretically, just leave. The realities, of course, were different – I was bound by student loans, a backpack full of expectations and a horrendous practical streak that made me miserable and ruined my plans to be a wayward poet-type traveling around and cavorting with strange men with names like Tully and Trey who had stringy hair and attempted goatees.

It has been a while since I could fit what I owned into the back of my car. Add marriage and home ownership to that and I was really staying put. And now there’s Daniel. Motherhood – it’s the best loss of freedom in the world. When I’m away from him for more than a few hours, I can’t wait to get back to the kicking, squirming warmth of his sturdy little body.

In the beginning, during those first crazy months of new-mommyhood, the total loss of freedom was hard to deal with. Let’s be honest, it was awful. I was pospartumy (depressed as hell), looked terrible, was exhausted and had crazy amounts of hormones running rampant through my body. My life had gone from a mix of work, errands, working out, dinners with friends and all kinds of social activities to being inside the house with just me and this tiny little being who ate every hour and a half, stayed up all night and cried for long bouts at random times. I was so in love that I could spend hours staring at him. But the fact was that my life was totally, completely different and I felt a bit like a prisoner in my house.

Each day when Michael came home I’d hand him the little bundle and race somewhere, anywhere. As long as it was near enough for me to make sure my breasts were home in time for the next feeding. I usually went to Target or the grocery store, where I’d revel in the freedom, wallow in the guilt and race back to make the next feeding. Sometimes the call would come sooner and I’d hear a very apologetic and somewhat panicked Michael saying, “Umm, I think you should come home now.” And in the background-- shrieking. I’d put down the Swiffer refills or the box of mac and cheese or whatever random product I happened to be pondering and head back to my house. I would’ve just sent my boobs back but couldn’t figure out the logistics.

Then, after a month or two, I began to venture out, but that involved a whole new level of complexity that blew my mind. Just leaving the house took an extra half hour, what with the overstuffed diaper bag that could tide Daniel over until he was five if we happened to be gone that long.

Now, four and a half months into it, our schedule is full. Between naps (everything revolves around naps. I am unhealthily obsessed with my son’s naps. But that’s another topic for another day), we run errands, go to playgroups and do things with other mommy’s. I even get girl’s nights and time for yoga and the occasional manicure.

And the truth is, I can still technically go anywhere I want to. I just have to take Daniel with me. And Michael, of course. He’s the one with the Skymiles. And let’s face it, that freedom I used to crave is a lonely place. If I could fill my car up with all my possessions at this age, I’d be heading straight to a therapist, not on a cross-country trip. And anyway, I can still do that old road trip, just with some slight revisions – Instead of the old Caddy, a Volvo station wagon. Replace the bad, self-indulgent poetry with a scratch and sniff book with a bunny protagonist. Add in a box of diapers, wipes, burp cloths and a few dozen onesies for those unfortunate spit-up incidents and I’ve got myself a road-trip to make Carouac proud (okay, that’s a stretch, but you get my point).

So, in the famous words of the late, great Janis Joplin, freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. It’s the battle cry of the young, the commitment- phobic and, of course, the jailed. So as an adult, a wife, a mother and an overall mature woman (please hold your laugher. I’m trying to be serious here), I renounce freedom for love, family, very little sleep and five poopy diapers a day.


At December 14, 2004 at 1:42 PM, Blogger seeingdouble said...

I can totally relate! I'm often caught daydreaming about doing all the things people without kids do, but honestly, they aren't having much fun either! And we can still take that roadtrip... just with some tag-alongs who may actually make it more adventurous! Who knows adventure better than a 2 year old??

At July 19, 2005 at 10:08 PM, Blogger rina said...

Perfectly said. That is exactly how I feel and felt.

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