Archer is in his bedroom as I write this. And I am in mine, cross-legged on my bed with the air-conditioner on. I am working on this book and he is looking at one: Where the Wild Things Are. A page is torn out toward the end of the story, when Max decides its time to go home because he misses his mother. The page disappeared one day. Sometimes Archer tears pages out of his books and hides them behind the bookshelf. The other day I found twelve pages and a dozen stale Cheerios flattened against the wall, ridden with dust and dog hair. I thought of stapling together a book but then remembered staples aren’t childproof, so I threw the pages away.
I lean over the side of the bed and peek at Archer through his open bedroom door. He’s arguing with the wild things and shaking his head. He doesn’t see me watching him. He’s in his own world so I go back to mine.
I type madly while I still can, finishing my allotted hour of work before its playtime again. A walk to the park, perhaps, or maybe we’ll play in the hose like we did yesterday, but first I must finish this chapter. I’m almost done. So close.
Archer is my Max, I think. He needs his time with his wild things so I can have time with mine, with the creatures that crawl all over my brain looking for an exit so they can finally be free.
And somehow, without saying so, he understands that I have other priorities besides him. I can’t just be his mother. There are characters that need looking after. Archer turns the page. Let the Wild Rumpus start!
One of my biggest fears about becoming a mother was that I would wake up passionless, unable to dig my fingers into my own flesh for ideas. Vacant of thought, my ambitions might quickly be forgotten, my insides erased of their contents to make room for Archer in an already cluttered interior... that I would be so consumed with motherhood, I would forget my original hood: myself.
Too many times I have hears stories about women who “sacrificed it all” to have children. I dropped out of school for you. I left my dreams behind for you. I broke myself in half and gave both sides... to you. This frightened me until Archer was born and I realized that a child is not a sacrifice, that unfaithfulness to one’s desire is a choice, with or without children or a full-time job to make ends meet. Making a choice to stay home is one thing but going against every personal need is something very different. The only way we can properly take care of our children is by taking care of ourselves first.