There are times when I miss my life before my daughter was born.
I miss the spontaneity of being able to just walk out the door to go to the grocery store. Now, I can’t go to the store without an arsenal of toddler stuff: snacks and water and toys and stickers and various stuffed animals. I used to walk to brunch on the weekends to have the extra time outside on the streets of New York City. I would listen to my iPod and people watch, taking my time to get to my destination. Now, I find myself struggling to get out the door with my screaming toddler in tow. I am always, always late.
Life as a stay-at-home mom is different. Some days, it’s just my daughter and me. She can talk now, which makes it less lonely, but there are afternoons when I find myself staring at the clock, willing it to be naptime. I tick off the boxes on my head of what I accomplished: small feats like taking a shower and getting the plumber to fix a leak. The same toys welcome me in her playroom each morning and she wants to the watch the same cartoons. Sometimes none of my friends are around for playdates and I don’t see any familiar moms at the park. On these days, I walk with her in the stroller to Starbucks just so I can talk to another adult.
It’s not that I don’t get out; I do, quite often. We have family nearby who help a lot. I hire babysitters. My husband and I go out on dates and I see friends for lunch or dinner. I am a strong believer that self-care makes me a better mother, so I make sure to spend time on activities that feed me like exercise and acupuncture.
But, no matter where I am in this world, I am tethered to my daughter. I find myself checking my watch when I am out, wondering if the babysitter was able to get her down for a nap on time. If I am shopping, I stop by the toddler section on the way out, just to see if there is anything for my daughter I am always thinking about her, wondering what she is doing and loving her. I breathe her; she is my life.
Motherhood involves a different kind of love that I had not previously experienced. I love my daughter with every fiber of my being. She came from me; she is a part of me. Even when I am not physically near her, I feel the two of us tethered with an invisible cord. Whenever she pulls on it, I feel her.
I understand now that it will always be like this; I see how my mom is still tethered to me, 36 years later. This motherhood bond cuts deep. I knew that I would love my daughter when she was born, but I did not expect to feel the pull of her little soul on me all the time, even in my dreams.
I chose to stay at home with her and I want to be with her, even on the hardest days when I desperately miss my old, carefree life. I remember when my husband and I could decide whether to go out to dinner last minute. Now, we plan our dinners out weeks in advance to make sure we can line up a babysitter. I remember my former life and it makes me smile.
Then the invisible cord of my daughter tugs at me and I find myself filled to the brim with the joy of her laughter and silliness and sweetness.
We are tethered: our hearts are intertwined down to their cores.