My mom has been here this weekend for a visit — mostly to look at the belly and marvel, but also to help me get shit ready for the Gadlet. Which has been great, but at the same time completely terrifying.
When she got here she was a LITTLE concerned because as far as she could tell there was nothing in our house that indicated that a baby would be arriving in 6 weeks. (Gasp!!!) That was, in a big part, deliberate, I think. After some previous reproductive disappointments I really didn’t believe in this baby (even as I was hunched over the toilet at 2 am because of it) until pretty recently. I’m not really superstitious, but I think there was a part of me that didn’t want to buy baby things because I was afraid to have them in the house in case things didn’t turn out ok. There is still a big part of me that is in that mode — I guess I worry too much about the bad that could happen and I thought somehow that if there weren’t any baby things out in plain view that if I lost the baby after birth then I wouldn’t be as sad. Which is, of course, boneheaded stupid. Losing the Gadlet would totally suck beyond all things no matter how many sweet little hats are sitting on a shelf waiting for a baby that would never arrive. I know this intellectually, but I’m still working on it emotionally.
The other problem is that in order to have room for the baby, I kinda have to give up my study. MY room. Nevermind the fact that I don’t work at home and have never really have been able to work at home. And nevermind the fact that my study is mostly a repository for junk and papers and stuff I don’t know what to do with and multiple paper copies of my dissertation and magazines and useless things that I might someday find a need for. Nevermind that my desk is usually so completely covered with paper that even if I wanted to work in there I probably couldn’t because it would require days of excavation to find the surface. It is my room. Mine. It is the place where I store the things that make me me — my work, my research, my artwork, my art supplies, my junk from high school and college, my childhood books, the paper dolls I made from scratch for myself in 6th grade because I wanted to outfit them in a whole 80’s genre wardrobe (imagine little paper shirts with Esprit written across the chest and tiny little docksiders), the cassette tapes that Spousal Unit made me when we were teenagers and falling in love, I could go on, but you get the picture, right? It is the repository of all things MINE, and MINE alone. In almost all of our houses, I’ve had my own space. It has been important to me to maintain my own space — probably as a way to hold onto myself while in a relationship. Not that I am likely to lose myself, I’m pretty big and so hard to misplace after all, but I think it can be a danger when you’re with someone for 18 years that you become only the self-in-relationship and not also the autonomous self. As a feminist, as well as someone consciously working on a healthy relationship, I’ve always thought it was vital to have an autonomous self. My room was a physical manifestation of my identity as a separate person from Spousal Unit. It was my space in which to be my autonomous self.
In this house, because we had 3 bedrooms instead of 2, Spousal Unit got a study too. It required the most remodeling and for two years sat completely gutted down to the rafters and ancient balloon construction walls before we put it all back together. SU and a friend built a whole-wall built-in cherry bookcase lit with recessed lights. The room is absolutely beautiful and he is so happy to have some space that is his own. Because it is on the main level, though, it wouldn’t be a good candidate for a baby room. My room was always slated to be the baby room in the Big Life Plan, so I kinda knew it was temporary, anyway. But knowing and KNOWING are two different things. And I’m having trouble letting go. ESPECIALLY because losing my autonomous self into the identity and role of Parent is one of my huge fears about this whole process.
The most obvious way this has manifested was that for the past few months anything that we accumulated for the Gadlet, mostly from friends, along some small new purchases, has gotten chucked into the closet of my room into two big storage buckets. Out of sight, out of mind. Right? Plus, nicely consolidated and clutter-free. These buckets have been great, but their time has come. Ruthlessly, with the single-mindedness of an over-protective grandparent determined to ensure that her future genetic material is properly equipped, Mom has disgorged everything from the buckets onto the dining room table, floor, hallway, SU’s study, my study/Gadlet room, the living room… Mostly, she was quite relieved to discover that between those blue buckets and the huge packing box excavated from the basement that we’ve had since some friends passed it on three or four years ago, we have just about damn near anything you could need for a baby. Me? I am completely overwhelmed and freaked out.
The good news is that we’ve arrived at a somewhat workable compromise on the space front. We have divided the room formerly known as MINE in half with a bookcase. The front half of the room will be Gadlet space — crib, dresser/changing table, rocking chair. The back half remains my study — desk, files. That way when the little one is little, we can hang out in there together. It is a bit of a tight squeeze, but how big is a baby, anyway? Plus, SU has allotted me some bookcase space and a small desk in the corner of his office. So, I kinda get two work spaces instead of just one — lucky me! Likewise, we’re dividing the closet in half so that the back half can contain the junk that constitutes my stuff and the front can have shelves for baby stuff. A very solomonic solution.
I guess the upside to all of this is that sooner rather than later I’ll have stuff ready for a new baby. The downside is that sooner rather than later I have to make room in my study, my space, and I guess, in my sense of myself, for a new baby.
Needless to say, I haven’t done much in the last few days. Consequently, I had a nightmare last night that my advisor was telling me how disappointed he was in me. Subtle, subconscious. Truly subtle. Disappointed in myself, huh? Anyway, I’ve got about 20 more pages to revise/tidy up in this chapter – plus that one comment to grapple with still (my strategy for now had been to ignore it). I need to finish it in the next few days so that I can move on to the next chapter and article that has to come out of that chapter. So, watch this space for further updates.