I do some of my best thinking in the car. My mind is in neutral, like meditation. It’s occupied with a mostly automated task.
As I was driving today I must have been thinking of my older children because I thought, I wonder what if I had supported her role as mother rather than competed. Would we have been friendly? Would it have been easier for the kids? Could I have done it? What would it have looked like–to act to the kids like I was her friend even though she hated me?
What if riffs.
I texted my daughter this morning to wish her luck in a venture about which I have serious misgivings.
I haven’t heard anything back from her eight hours later.
I did not feel this child grow inside my body. I did not watch the test to see two lines or one and rejoice when it confirmed what I already suspected. I did not experience hours of labor and the rending of my body only to feel her soft sweet skin on mine and her lips on my breast.
I did not rock her small form and watch it grow before my eyes in those early months. I did not witness her first taste of solid food (at least not in person). I have never had her call my name when she woke from a nightmare.
And yet this growing away, this move to establish independence, feels like (as I imagine) having the first layers of skin removed or experiencing a scapel cut through to my fleshy insides.
And I wonder, in my what if riff, what this will feel like when it is the child I first felt move in my own, whose birth tore my body, and whose soft skin felt like an extension of my own for so many years.
How does anyone survive this journey of parenthood?
I have an ever growing understanding of midlife crisis. It’s not just about mortality and unfulfilled dreams. It’s about rebranding and healing and distracting.
Time to buy another canvas or sketch out a plot.