Although I don’t remember the year, exactly
(those early days are all a blur)
that I was driving down North Street.
In my mind’s eye it was late Fall,
because the sky was darkening as I drove home from work
giving me this sense of urgency as I waited in traffic, on my way to pick my daughter up from daycare.
It had been dark when I dropped her off
and now the sun was winking through the ever-baring trees once again.
I was listening to the public radio station I always listen to, and a new song by a local artist
soared across the airwaves
and changed everything.
“You’ve got to hold on
it goes so fast
those early days, well,
they don’t last
Got to enjoy them
they go so fast
those baby days, well,
They don’t last.”
Though I’d heard these words of advice – treacly and sometimes impossible to fathom though they are – from a million well-meaning grandmothers before
This Was It.
My heart shattered and I wailed
sitting there in traffic
my eyes blurred with tears and I gasped with sobs.
It wasn’t so much that my daughter came home each day
smelling of the perfume of the other women who had comforted her and played with her
or my little girl’s particular anxieties about being away from me
as it was that I had to leave her so that I could stare longingly at the grey walls of my cubicle
(as if my escape route was somehow encrypted in the fabric, if only I could decode it)
sitting in one sisyphian meeting after another
and trying to muster enthusiasm for my inbox.
It wasn’t what I thought life would look like.
(I want to say, also, that the flow of my tears came also with the ache of guilt. I had a great job with benefits and a fair wage, a home that was safe and beautiful, loving care for my daughter, and enough privilege to even consider leaving my career).
There it was.
The longing and uncertainty had simmered long enough, quelled by my placations: “be grateful for what you have” and “all in due time.”
A torrent of maternal instinct and desire
a rallying cry for what might be possible
tore forth from me that day as I shifted into first gear
inched down North Street
listened to the sweet plunk of banjo music
and knew that nothing would ever be the same again.
So many of the women I work with have a catalyzing moment or experience that makes them rethink everything they thought they knew about themselves and what mattered to them.
Can you relate? What moment or moments have changed everything for you?