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Under pressure

An excerpt from "Rockabye: From Wild to Child" by Rebecca Woolf

by Rebecca Woolf  |  4815 views  |  0 comments  |        Rate this now! 

I cross my fingers behind my back and say, “I’m fine, just fine,” when anyone asks me how I’m doing. I smile, even though I feel like I’m folding like paper, slowly ripping at the edges from the wet heat of the pressure cooker. What if I can’t do it all?

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall...

I take Archer out of his crib and into my arms.

“You’re supposed to be sleeping, baby.”

It’s amazing how fast he stops crying when I pick him up. It is still hard to believe his cries are for me. Because he needs me. A feeling both wonderful and completely terrifying.

“How about you lie back down and go to sleep so mama can unpack the kitchen, okay?”

I want to be taken care of, and at the same time I want so badly to be able to take care of myself. And I can’t. I want to help everyone, but I can’t. I want to show Archer that life is not perfect, that the world is wild and unorthodox and there is beauty in the dark and Here, let’s eat sand all day and finger paint with icecream... Yet all the while, I hold in my hands a box of wet wipes. Antibacterial. You can never be too careful.

Yes, you can!

No, you cannot.

These days I care about the kinds of things I never dreamed I’d even think about. I care about jobs providing benefits. I care about money and lifestyle and keeping a clean house, an orderly life. And it’s consuming me. There are days when I get in my car to go to the gym, and for a split second I think about turning right instead of left, of taking the 101 to San Francisco to join the street performers (I could play the tambourine!). So much of my energy is spent trying to catch up with my life and outrun it at the same time. Faster, so it all blurs. Faster, and I can be spontaneous again. I can be free. Selfish. I can wander aimlessly. I can feel lost.

Sometimes I miss the yesterdays. The guts. But the guts are still here! They have to be.

Maybe. I can turn myself inside out, but a part of me is afraid that when I do, I will find a clean interior, wires tied neatly in a bow, and I cannot imagine a scarier sight. White-picket-fenced. Responsible. Shoot me, then, in the foot. Watch me bleed. No, thanks. I don’t want a Band-Aid.

Growing up, my mom was very much together. She never cussed. She never flipped anyone off. She never broke the law. Or snuck out for a cigarette. But I am not my mother. I am myself. And while I want what’s best for my child, I also want what’s best for me.

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