I was talking to a coworker about the generally dismal quality of the job we share. So she was asking me, how did I bear the anxious, unpleasant tedium that characterizes our job? In a you-will-soon-see-how-this-is-related note, ahe is the parent of twin 9-month-old boys.
And I said, Well, I rationalize that it allows me to work on my own stuff sometimes.
Ah, she said wistfully. I remember when I used to do my own stuff.
I hastened (!) to let her know that of course she's going to do her own stuff again. Losing it just a weird by-product of being a parent. At first you have nothing—everything you knew or were is gone. You are a sobbing empty hulk, staggering around an altered landscape, barely able to speak, let alone do anything.*
And then comes the magical day. No, not your baby's first smile, though that's fine and all. Rather, the moment when a tiny shred of yourself is given back to you. For some people it's probably the first day they leave the house in a fabulous outfit.** For others, it's when they're able to go to the gym. Or paint a picture. For me? It was when I could read again.
Reading is the first part of myself that returned to me. I remember lying on the couch reading a Spenser novel, completely absorbed, Diana sleeping in a basket on the floor next to me. It was perfectly satisfying—it let me remember who I was. As time passed, other things returned, one by one: cooking, instead of ordering in; seeing friends; writing.
But it occurs to me, given that here we are at the beginning of the year in that whole "Is it time to REEVALUATE YOUR LIFE?" vibe, my half-baked idea: that the order in which parts of you come back might well be the order in which they matter. To me, or to you. And maybe, if we want to figure out what's important, we ought to think about that.
I am sure it is different for everyone, of course. We can't all get it all back, right? Some parts of who we were vanish forever, for a whole bunch of reasons. But still, it's nice to remember that some come back. It's nice to remember that there are things in this crazy world—things other than your kids, even—that you love.
As I feel I must always ask at the ends of these: am I crazy? Did anyone else have this experience, where when their kids were babies they only got to hold onto one tiny part of themselves? And if so, what was it? Is this only applicable to parent people, or is there some way its true for those without children? Tell!
*Note: This may only have been true for me. Maybe not for everyone. Possibly?
**Note: It's possible this may still not have happened for me yet.