I'm sure I'm not the first to make any of the following observations, but they come as such a suprise to me that I feel compelled to write them down. Motherhood is WEIRD. It changes things in extreme but disparate ways. For example, people can be shockingly kind -- I never knew that most people had it in them! In parking lots when I'm kneeling next to the baby car seat strapping Sonja in, people regularly stop their cars or just walk over to ask if they can help. It might be that I appear particularly inept, but folks are always offering to carry things for me, always reaching toward me and smiling. Women and men both melt into spontaneous stories about their own children. It's beautiful. On the other hand, I am suddenly seen as possessing less than my normal worth in some ways by some people. At work, where my employers have very generously allowed me to bring the baby in with me as long as I'm off the clock for time spent on extended baby-care, things have gotten ugly. One minute everyone is gushing over the baby. The next, my boss will see that she's in my arms and assign me to do some task specificly because it is impossible to do while holding a baby, just to make a point. It's probobly not appropriate to go into more detail about work, but the story ends with my pay being cut for the hours I spend there with Sonja. Which happened JUST WHEN WE BOUGHT A HOUSE, which a.) we bought partially because of its proximity to my job and b.) has a huge mortgage that I consequently don't feel we can afford. I get whiplash from the hot and cold vibes at work. Bringing the baby there feels like taking her into a hostile, unsafe warzone where I never know how we will be treated.
Another big complicated issue with motherhood which I couldn't really comprehend until I got here is jealously. It pops up in many guises. First, there's my jealously of the love that my loved ones feel for Sonja. All the people I love suddenly seem to love her more than they love me: my parents, my husband... they barely see me anymore, having eyes, energy, and resources only for the baby. As well they should, but it still hurts. Then there's the jealousy of my friends for the attention and time I have for the baby and not for them. I'm almost totally AWOL and my peeps are understanding but not pleased. And then I suppose I'm a little jealous of Sonja. She is beautiful and new and her skin is impossibly springy and rosy and she has it aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall ahead of her!
A friend actually warned me about this next thing and I really couldn't have imagined what she meant until experiencing it: I have completely lost my tolerance for violence. The day Sonja was born, a switch was thrown in my brain and now I cannot stand to witness human suffering -- on the news, in a movie, prime time tv, books, anywhere. I get horribly nauseous and want to run out of the room. See, to me, now EVERYONE was once and somehow still is someone's vulnerable little baby. I live in terror of Sonja's injury, sickness, or sadness and I involuntarily superimpose the suffering of others onto her in my mind. It's like third-party empathy. Very inconvenient. Actually, it extends to animals too. If I weren't already a (mostly) vegetarian (I eat fish), I would definately become one now.
Well we're all moved in. The house is wonderful and Sonja LOVES her nursery. My insanely generous sister painted almost every room, and Greg and his dad refinished to gorgeous wood floors. Last night we took baby to see the town's Christmas parade/tree lighting event. It was hilarious: tons of drama, sirens, a dramatic countdown as "Santa" was lifted very, very high in the air over the park via a firetruck ladder to "light the tree." He had to be 30 feet up -- "3, 2, 1!!!" The lights go on and the Christmas tree he is hovering over is like 8 feet tall. Pure comedy.