Anyway, in April of 1999, I had just returned from an international conference on paleolithic rock art in Portugal (gasp! So awesome, I'll have to tell you about it sometime). And so, literally as The Kid was conceived, I was mulling over two exceedingly poor paying jobs for archaeologists I'd met at that conference. The first was a roman cooking site in the glorious Algarve of southern Portugal, like, the site was virtually in heaven, and the second was a paleolithic site in The Alps. No damn joke. I had a choice between a mediterranean seaside and a ricola commercial. I would have no money, and I would be showing wealthy tourists how to tell rat bones from cooked stone, but, well, I'd be on the Med or in the Alps. Rough.
But now, I sell insurance. Christ. Insurance. Is it not the iconic soul-crushing job? Also, if I've sold out to corporate America, should I not have something to show for it? I guess I do. Do you know what I have to show for the money I make?
- $110 per month in prescription drug copays
- approx. $180 in doctor's visits costs, if we don't see his pediatrician, dentist, or therapist more than twice
- A child with a mental disorder, or three
- constant worry, gray hairs and enormous strain, in every thing. EVERY LITTLE THING.
So, it's not the Alps. I'm generally okay with this most of the time. I made a choice to have The Kid. All mothers, however, at one time or another, regret their choice. I certainly have too. And I don't want to say I don't want him, or I don't love him, or that I didn't expect motherhood to be hard, or that single motherhood would somehow be more financially easy, but damn, people. It's hard to be The Kid's mom. The toll he's wrecked on me, and really (I could not be more serious about this one) on my family, my sisters and their kids and my mom, feels at times as though it is limitless. And he's only 6. Every day it's something new, and I'm fucking tired, let alone conceiving of what I've got ahead of me for the rest of his life. I'm exhausted of having The Kid, The Kid who must fight me at every moment over food, over not getting enough attention/ getting too much attention, daily phone calls from school, doctors, etc. It's the et cetera that kills me the most.
I love him, but I also like to fantasize about my alternate path, the summer spent in Portugal, the jobs from there, that professor I met from Cambridge asking me to work with him on Romanesque finial research once he got funding, the impermanence of the life of an archaeologist, and the wanderlust of it all. I wouldn't be human if I didn't.
So, anyway, this poem I added to the blog below. It's my favorite... It's resonated with me long before I got all knocked up, but after being a mother, it really began to rock my world. It combines all of those things that cross your mind at 5am with a suckling baby: the routine, the lonliness, I guess, the monotony of it all, but also all of those spectacular flashes of the cosmic in holding a tiny being in your hands. When they coo at an empty ceiling, and you look up, expecting to see a ghost, or an angel or something, and you get the chills; when you think of how you are continuing the species, and your body's acheivement in childbirth somehow connects to the sorority of all women, of all time who have felt this and done that, and you realize that God is somehow tied up in all of that, and so it follows that you are God and God is you, and we all are immensely creative, in the truest, purest sense, in the stupor and sleep deprivation of motherhood. So when I'm feeling the pull of sadness at my lot in life, I read that poem, and I generally answer her big question, about the going around and down to the old temple, that I am most definitely a priestess.
I reserve the right, however, to occasionally feel as though I am the sacrifice.