It was 3am. I was exhausted. Of the past 24 hours, I’d slept perhaps three. I hadn’t eaten anything that day, and barely allowed any water. I’d spent 12 hours in active labor and then had surgery. They’d just brought me my son back – having insisted on taking him away so I could rest. Rest! As if I was going to rest without my child. But now, in the darkness and the quiet, with my son at my side, I could finally relax.
It was 3am. I’d done all the things, and I was ready to clock out. In that moment, I had a realization – there was no clocking out. I was totally responsible for this tiny life. In someone else’s hands or in my own, the responsibility was mine. Life itself depended on me, my competence, my responsibility. The weight of maternity settled on me, and I finally went to sleep, my baby in my arms.
Nearly twenty-two years later, I look at my calendar, look at my children, and realize that the responsibility is lifting. My younger child (a daughter) will be eighteen in a few months, and graduate from high school. She might choose to do something great, or she might choose to do something dumb – but I don’t get to choose for her. My shift is ending. I am no longer the one responsible.
I look before me and see a bridge into the mist. All I ever wanted was the land that I stand on now. This land, this white-picket fence land with dogs and cats and PTA meetings – this is what I dreamed of. And now it is time to dream a new dream.
What is the dream, and where am I travelling? I’ve tried to answer these questions in the past, but I answered them in the framework of maternal responsibility. The answers didn’t fit, because the assumptions were wrong. I’m free. Free to remake my life around a framework of independence. Everything has changed.
And so, I start on the journey through the mist.