Thursday, October 16, 2014

I'm very tired, and I don't have much to say tonight. Thank goodness for that "one printed page or less" rule that I have a vague chance of actually following this time.

I didn't exercise tonight. I've been trying to do it every night since I got on a scale about a month ago for the first time and a long time and found myself twenty pounds heavier than I expected to be, which was already twenty pounds heavier than what I wanted to be. So I switched into emergency mode.

I've been doing a pretty good job sticking with it-- some days are less intense than others, but I haven't skipped a lot-- but my body is a lot older than it used to be. I've been living with a persistent, low-level soreness nearly constantly since then, and today, I finally decided to give my poor knees a break.

This accomplished mostly guilt and an increase of pain-- I've stopped producing endorphins long enough to feel how sore I really am, I guess. And the guilt...I guess I can't stick with a program like this unless I really beat myself up about how negligent I've been in the past. So taking a break for even a night brings out a lot of anxiety that I'll slip, as well as whatever reaction to the beating up I've been repressing. I don't know. It's weird.

I have a son now.  There's no good way to introduce him here, I guess: in this place that's predated his existence by over a decade. In this ritual that, despite long breaks, bore me from what was very nearly my own infancy.

There's...a lot to get into about him, Ezra. Or rather, about my reaction to him. The pregnancy, the emotion, the regrets, the they all affected me, how they all have shaped the way I see parenting. None of it is really about him at all, honestly: he's a smiley, happy, perfect child. He takes after his Dad in the happiness department, as far as anyone can tell, ten months in. And for anyone who missed the last, I don't know, 5-10 posts: his Dad is not Zack, my former husband.

There's a lot to get into, about motherhood, and me-hood, and the point at which they meet. But it's a longer post for another night. Or, rather, many other posts, many more years, if I can keep this silly facade up.

What I'll say about it, for now, is that I was watching this episode of Mad Men tonight-- I'd watched seasons 1-4 before, but I started over with Dan and we're somewhere in season 6 now-- and there's this scene where Don delivers a monologue about parenthood. How underwhelming it can be. How you find yourself faking it; pretending to love them as much as you are told you're supposed to love them. Pretending to feel all the things that you think you're supposed to feel.

I can't find it on Youtube, but if you have Netflix, it's Season 6, Episode 4. Near the end: 41 minutes and 30 seconds in.

"I only ever wanted to be the man who loves children. But from the moment they're born, that baby comes out and you act proud and excited. Hand out cigars. But you don't feel anything, especially if you had a difficult childhood. You want to love them, but you...don't. And the fact that you're faking that feeling makes you wonder if your own father had the same problem. Then one day they get older, and you see them do something, and you feel that feeling that you were pretending to have. And it feels like your heart is going to explode."
 The words itself don't do it justice: Mad Men is clearly one of the most well-written, well-directed and well-acted pieces of television ever created. John Hamm is flawless here: he says this all with such captivating, vulnerable honesty. He explores this feeling that we just don't talk enough about in our culture: the shame that so many people feel that they don't love their children enough. That, for many, the story of how much having a child will change your perspective and your priorities and your life is just a fairy tale, like so many things before it.

I love my son. I'm not saying I don't. He's a joy, he's a happy little baby who makes everyone smile. The way he moves, and the noises he makes.

But I don't love him more than I've ever loved anything, at least not yet. And I don't think I could ever love him enough to have it be the...all-important, all-consuming purpose that we're supposed to find, as people. The thing that's worth more than dying for; the thing I'm supposed to live for. I'm sure I'll come to love him more than I do now, but I don't believe he could ever really be that.

Every day now, I'm supposed to write less than a page, and I'm compelled, despite all competing circumstances, to write more than that. That compulsion, that purpose...I don't even believe he could ever really be this.

They're supposed to be separate things anyway, I guess. If I were a man instead of a woman, it would be much more socially acceptable that my passion in life may not be my child. Draper went six seasons without ever really acknowledging it, and everyone loves him despite the way he acts it out: the characters, his children, the audience. Everyone.

Maybe one day, though, I'll feel as though my heart is going to explode. One can only hope.

That day is not today. This is day 3.

On with it.