I am drowning, I wrote to myself in my journal. No, that’s not right. I’m being bricked in. It was a few weeks after Beatrice was born. I was already back in the swing of things–I had been since her second week. Schooling, housekeeping, childrearing, everything. I had sent a text a friend saying I felt “thin”, like Bilbo with the ring. To another, I confessed, Number Six may be the one that does me in.
I always feel like I’m being “done in” during these first weeks of trying to grapple with the reality of adding another member to our family. After the first, the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth, the sixth time I did it, I have always felt strange, alien, incapable. Out of control. I don’t like feeling like I’m out of control.
So in my moments of quiet (what few there were) I grasped for control. I wrote out schedules and routines, trying to see who needed what from me each day, and when. I tried strategies for keeping up with the house, the laundry. I fit everything together like the countless parts of a well-oiled machine, and on paper, everything seemed to work, and in person, things seemed to work, too.
Except that I felt I was being bricked in alive.
I can’t figure this out, I would tell Jeremy. I can’t make everything work.
Well, we have a lot of kids, he’d say.
But I’ve always felt this way. I feel this way every time. This should be getting easier, not harder, right?
I remember hearing, time and time again, that the hardest number of children to have is four, and after that everything is old hat, just throwing another person into the already-running machine. But I was wrestling (figuratively) through another evening of Beatrice’s witching hour when it occurred to me that she wasn’t fitting into our Machine because she’s the only one of her we ever had. At least, if it was not those exact words, it was the impression made on my fatigued and muddled mind. There wasn’t a solution to it all–only the impression. She’s never been here before. She’s never been before. Of course things don’t work. She’s not the other children. It’s only the same as before if you’re not paying attention.
Paying attention–those were words though, very clearly. I remember them. They would be coming back to me frequently.