I’ve been thinking lately about the changes I have gone through in my daughter’s first six years of life. Some have been expected, and some not.
When she was first born I was thrilled to meet her, relieved that everything went well, and simultaneously excited and horrified at the reality that this little human’s life was in my hands. Why the full impact of my responsibility didn’t hit home until she was placed in my arms I can’t explain, but I imagine it hits many other women that way at that pivotal moment as well.
I had loved automatically this creature who had been living inside my body for the past nine months. But now that she was out in the world, I wasn’t quite sure of her or me. The first few months were a getting-to-know-you period where I had to meet and get to know this tiny person. My new roommate was demanding, and I had to learn to love her amidst all the chaos, but I happily did fall in love with her all over again pretty quickly. When I think about the rest of that first year, I mostly think of us face-to-face, with goofy grins.
The second year, which most dub the terrible twos, now seems a breeze-at least toddler behavior-wise. Milestones were met, walking and talking began in earnest. A real little person was in my life. Probably the greatest challenge for me was having to watch her get sick, or fall down and get hurt, and deal with all the worry, while at the same time trying to care for her and let her know that everything would be O.K. The end of that year blurs with the third year and was a real struggle for me, as childhood illness really took over, and it seemed that the two of us were sick all the time. I also started to lose who I was, my identity, and I think started to resent the whole motherhood gig. I’m an artist and have always had a very good sense of my own talents and abilities. But all of those things that make me me are frankly beside the point when the important thing is to feed and care for a little one. With added pressure from work from folks who aren’t parents and just didn’t get what it’s like to be torn in two-to be wholly responsible for another’s existence-well, it didn’t help and tended to make a person cranky…
But we both started to get healthier, thanks to some lifestyle changes. I worked hard and consciously to stay out of range of some things. Of course it also helped that my daughter was simply growing up and out of other things, and during the fourth and fifth year I started to find my own voice, my own self, again. She became a bit more independent, and I could take some time to express myself-through my blog-or just by being able to have a conversation with another adult and have her not be the only focus in the room, as four and five-year-olds are not as endlessly fascinating to grown-up folks as babies are. Of course, contrarily, the fact that she in no longer gets as much attention from friends is nettlesome to a mother, too!
This year we are circling back to where we were in year one. She’s old enough to get her own breakfast on the weekends, so I can sleep in and get some “me” time. She is so smart and funny that we can get giddy together and laugh or share a family joke. Or I can just sit and watch her in amazement as she tells a story, or in delight as she dances, It’s not quite the same “stare at each other with goofy grins” as before, but our worlds have changed, we are both older. But I’ve always felt that life is not so much a circle, but a spiral, and we are now in a similar position to the loop we were on six years ago-but now we are on a loop farther out on the spiral. And it’s a good place to be.
Some of my favorite spirals in art:
Spirals in nature
Ironwork spiral designs