When the babies are in bed, I end up in the kitchen, that place of mystery and martyrdom. I wash bottles (with a greater or lesser degree of unwillingness, depending on the day), absentmindedly poke leftovers into my mouth, stare out the window into the trees, load and unload the dishwasher, wipe the surfaces, think about what we are going to eat for the rest of the week.
I also think about how the rest of my baby-farming days are going to look. I think about school lunches and P and C meetings (or whatever the Polish equivalent is) and the gigantic, ongoing logistical operation which I am apparently running. Sometimes I feel fine about this mixture of mundanity and megalomania which apparently characterises motherhood. Everything depends on me! But it’s relentless and draining! But I’m in charge! Etc. And sometimes I feel utterly lost, as if I am growing into somebody I don’t quite recognise.
I have never liked the phrase ‘to be expecting’, which seems like a coy and euphemistic way of avoiding all the suspect physicality of pregnancy- how you get that way, what happens to you when you’re in that state. But somehow, now, I think it is an accurate description of my mental state this time last year. Just expecting. Not expecting anything in particular. Just waiting and incubating, thinking that somehow I would just be myself plus 2 when the bloody and confusing business of birth was over, and wondering with a sort of abstract curiosity how this strange new equation might look.
And so, here we are. I am a Mother of Two. I still don’t really believe it, though my children finally realise that I am somebody of import to them and object when I leave the room. It’s a status I will have for life, and maybe it’s this permanency that I’m trying to assimilate.