On Ice Cream and Bras and Very Little Sleep

It is difficult, at times, to not feel like I've disappeared in motherhood. We're in the trenches of fragmented sleep, where needs outnumber the hours in the day. I am grateful for my messy, noisy life, and my messy, noisy kids, but it's a struggle to find myself amid the chaos sometimes. I used to have hobbies and interests and a full social life (and one day I will again) but right now I have motherhood. I say that with love. Frustration. Elation. Despair.

My babies are not low maintenance. Last night Penelope screamed at me, and then held her breath until her eyes rolled up into her head and her lips turned blue. Grady's independence has developed a lot since he started kindergarten but he's a sensitive kid; his emotions and big feelings require daily attention. To be clear, I'm not complaining about their bold personalities. I wouldn't change a single thing about them (that's a lie; I'd make Poppy more receptive to sleeping long stretches). But it can be a struggle on the days when both need extra attention from me. I find myself collapsing into bed, worn out from the demands of two tiny dictators, without having had a moment to just be me, Hillary, without being mommy or mamamamamamamamama. 

I'm lucky. Shawn is an attentive, engaged dad. He works hard and then comes home and builds Lego and sings songs and goes to the park. We have oodles of family support and a network of generous, supportive friends. My life is full (of love, of support, of options, of so much). And yet I feel lost sometimes. And invisible. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be. I'm not sure who I'm supposed to be. Shawn asked me what my favourite flavour of ice cream is and I answered, "vanilla?" tentatively, like a question. I can tell you what Poppy's head measurement was at her last doctor's appointment, I can tell you the names of Grady's teachers and his division number, I can tell you when both kids are due for vaccinations, dentist appointments, and new shoes, but I can't tell you what flavour of ice cream is my favourite. I used to know things, definitively, instantly. Maybe I was wrong, but that was okay. At least I had confidence in my decisions and could go from there. Now I choose the safest, easiest way out and I don't even do that with fervour or intent. Vanilla? 

I'm shopping for bras. My breasts have been through a lot and slapping on a light-support yoga bra every morning isn't doing them any favours (nor is it helpful for the non-nursing bra to be yanked down 87 times a day by a demanding Poppy). I don't need investment bras, not right now while I'm still breastfeeding and my body is changing, but I need something. It seems I have two options when it comes to nursing bras: sterile or sexy. That's it. I can be beige or buxom. And I don't want to be either. Neither feels like it fits me.

And that's the crux. Nothing feels like it fits me anymore. Or rather, I don't fit anything. This is sounding a lot more dramatic than I mean it to. I don't mean to sigh and wail at the skies that nothing is right and I'm not right and woe is me, the first mother to ever feel lost in the tumult of motherhood. It's more a realization of sorts. I need to acknowledge that this is where I'm at, and I want to be on the other side, so I need to figure out how to make that happen. I need to figure out what fits me. Maybe vanilla ice cream is my favourite. That's cool. There's nothing wrong with vanilla ice cream (except, maybe, that it's not chocolate ice cream). But I want to know that vanilla ice cream is my favourite, not just pick it because I'm exhausted and defeated. Vanilla ice cream shouldn't be a consolation prize. It should be a choice.