Some days, the grind gets to me. Repeatedly clearing up the same messes, going through the same actions, spending my time in the same four rooms. Emptying Jake’s bag, doing laundry, and most of all, wracking my brains as to what to feed Jake. What with Paul being vegan and Jake not being able to eat so many things because of his stoma, not to mention his lack of appetite and going off a lot of things he used to love, cooking well requires a lot more motivation and imagination than I usually have.
And yet, even the thought of going back to work feels completely wrong. Picking Jake up from his nap this morning, I couldn’t imagine anyone else taking the time to just hold him and let him stare at whatever he wanted to stare at before hurrying on to the next thing that needed to be done. He’s usually very grumpy when he wakes up and just needs to be held until he’s ready to get on with his day. Would even the nicest, kindest childminder take the time to do this, if they have other children to care for? It’s these little details that could easily get overlooked, but which I believe are important. And how could I bear to spend three whole days away from Jake, knowing while I stand making a cup of tea in the office kitchen that I’m not going to have a little warm bubba rush up from behind to grab my legs in a boundlessly joyful hug.
I’ve also settled into a certain pace and rhythm that I prefer to the fast pace of city life. Even though I’m not in a high flying, high stress profession, just getting on the tube, working in town, being in a busy office – all of that takes you to a different place. It requires a great deal of practice and effort to settle into yourself. It makes you tired, stirs up your mind and scatters it, sucks you into busyness, always needing to relax but not quite being able to. Being at home, even with the grind and the loneliness, brings me closer to who I really am. But every day, I prevaricate. I go from wanting to go back to work and immediately back again.
And then I think about our having another child. When Jake was in hospital, we both felt that we wanted to have another. And a big part of me still does, and there’s no reason why we physically couldn’t, but when I hear about other people’s second pregnancies, or second babies, I just feel so sad and jealous and angry and depressed all at once. Because I don’t think I could cope. I’m not being modest either. This doubt comes from a place of painful self-awareness. Both of my own limitations and the fact that I do not have any sort of family or other support network close by to provide the sort of reliable, practical help that is needed to bring up a child, especially more than one child. Although Jake is an absolute joy, bringing him up is a struggle because apart from Paul, I feel like I’m doing it on my own.
And yet, if we don’t have another, (and I’m going to be 38 in less than two weeks), will it be too late? Will I regret it?
Yesterday I wrote a list of all the things I’ve lost (inspired by the Naomi Shihab Nye poetry book I’m reading). It included all sorts of objects, especially hats. And many people. But the thing that struck me the most as I was writing was this: possibilities. In making certain choices, we naturally close the door on a vast number of other possibilities. That’s why choosing can be so painful. But if we don’t actively choose, then maybe we run the risk of losing what really matters, or having nothing but regrets.