I’m out of the office. I’m taking some time to create a patchy career while a small person cries in the other room. I won’t be gendering them because fuck you Kmart with your boy and girl aisles. It looks like I’ll be away from three weeks before the birth until they’re maybe 14. Let’s see.
My employer has replaced me with a lovely young woman called Briana, or Bree. You should probably email her if you want something done. They say they’ll have me back in a part-time, admin-like capacity after 12 months. We all know that this is completely illegal but, at this stage, we’re just turning a blind eye. I haven’t decided if I’m going to accept this or any other proposal. This is entirely my prerogative considering I’ve got stitches right up to my rear and two giant melons that leak.
Right now, I’m focusing on attachment. This involves attachment to the nipples, yes. But also to the child. I’m aware that, later, when I get my brain back and can read properly again, the scientific literature, the media, pseudo-psychological social media posts and even the spiritual peeps (not to mention the kid themselves) will blame me for every fucking thing. I ate tuna when they were in-utero, God forbid. I don’t rouse myself for every cry or squeak. My boundaries aren’t firm. I’ve created a core wound.
Let me talk to you about wounds. They give you a cushion, those nurses do. It’s like a little round ring that you’re supposed to blow up and then sit on to protect your poor stitched-up self. This cushion is a joke. This cushion is inadequate. This cushion knows nought about wees and poos and pain and terror. This cushion does not help.
My husband is trying. Very trying. He makes tea and changes nappies and then he expects a pat on the back. Just this week I’ve come to understand that he’s wrapped my superannuation up in a self-managed fund that owns two apartments on the Gold Coast. I’m not sure where my money is, how to get it or how to say no. Regardless, by the time I’ve quilted together my patchwork career over the next 14 years, I will most likely have 30% less super than most men. Don’t even get me started on the gap between my average hourly rate and what men get paid for the same thing.
Excuse me, there’s someone at the door. Oh, it’s the nappy service and I just need to go give them a bucket of shit. I won’t be long.
That lovely young man, he’s the first adult I’ve seen all day and our interaction lasted all of 11 seconds. I’m sorry that he has to cart excrement around for a living though and, let’s face it, he’s probably not likely to earn any superannuation this year either.
Where was I again? Oh yeah, I’m not able to answer your query right now. Apologies for the inconvenience.
You might think I’ve gone mad. I wonder about that too. What with the 2 am feeds and the fact that my husband has gone back to work (it’s vital that we protect his sleep), I am a stranger to myself. You may or may not have known me before, so maybe you think tracky dacks, a baggy t-shirt and a 'messy bun' are my signature style? Perhaps you’re one of my colleagues and you’re thinking geez, she’s lost the plot. If so, I suggest you contact Bree: she’s the new me, she wears nice suits and it’s quite possible her perineum remains intact. If you’re a spam bot or an auto-reply to my auto-reply, it’s nice to meet you. Let’s get caught in a loop together where my reply and your bounce-backs create a communication infinity where I rant and you deflect, emulating men’s power from here into eternity – or until the server breaks down.
I’m not checking my email while I’m away, so I won’t be as responsive as usual. I’ll be passed out on the couch in front of Netflix at 10.30 am while the kid sleeps. When I wake up, I won’t check my email, but I will look at my phone whenever I want. Heck, I might even give the phone to the kid if that works. People will judge me for that. They’ll write articles and cartoons about what an inattentive mother I am but, right now, all I can say is: put it on my tab. The kid’s going to pay for it all later anyway. They'll spend hours of their adult life on a psychiatrist's couch because I didn’t attach them enough. If we’re all lucky, they’ll inherit two Gold Coast apartments and that’ll foot the bill.
Meanwhile, I’ll live with the fear that’s set in. It’s a strange, seemingly biological anxiety that arrived on the scene the moment the kid burst through my nether regions. And now it’s part of my consciousness. It drives my decisions. It keeps me awake, just so I can listen to them breathe.
One day, standing outside in the sun, I’ll look over at my husband who is holding them in his arms and think ‘I’ve never been this happy before’. Then the terror will strike and remind me that all of this could be taken away, instantly. I’m one disaster away from the pain of losing them, and that kind of pain happens to people all around the world, every freaking day.
Vigilance is the new black. Alert, responsive, able. That’s who I am required to be.
Best wishes to you. May all your working days be sweet. May your pay be on par. May your superannuation flourish. And may your children attach if that’s what life asks of you. I’ll be back soon, or maybe I won't. Either way, I’ll never, ever, quite be myself again.
(who is pretending to be someone else – do not fear, I have not procreated again!)