Thursday, August 7, 2008


Motherhood has skinned me alive, left me ripe wide open, hollow and fragile. I am larger than before, and I don’t just mean my hips or pooch and lord knows my boobs are smaller if anything. Yet I am too big to fit into my body, my thoughts and emotion, my feelings pink and raw. It is all too too much and I find that most days I don’t know what to do with it all.

When Zoey was just a few months old there was an earthquake. It wasn’t that big, maybe a 4.5. This was at our old house in the city. Zoey was asleep on our bed and Bryan and I were in the kitchen. I have lived in California all my life. I have felt tiny tremors that I blamed on passing trucks. I have tingled with the endorphins of larger quakes when the floor swayed like a hammock beneath my feet. Earthquakes shock me with the thrill of someone who has never truly been touched by natural disaster. They are stories to be shared with the cashier at the supermarket, light and fun, a watercooler of where were you when? So I was surprised when that smallish 4.5 quake shook me with a magnitude I had never before felt. The kitchen tiles retro pink and burgundy, a jarring tilt-a-world, vertigo, a split moment when Bryan and I look at each other and my mouth fills with the sharp metallic tang of fear.
The earth moves but it is no longer just me that it is moving. I picture Zoey on my bed, the plate glass window above her head cracking and falling, raining sheets of sharp. I picture the worst.
Bryan is away for a few days, sailing down the coast of California with my dad. A subject worthy of its own post, worlds colliding, but what’s important here is that Zoey and I are alone. Last night Nacho slept with me, curled into the indentation of Bryan’s body in the fluffy feather-top mattress. At 2am I felt him jolt awake, then a deep guttural growl the likes of which I have never heard from a cat this side of the Serengeti. Then the crunch of something stepping on crinkly tissue paper. A crash. I turned on the light and bolted out of bed, naked. Nacho wouldn’t even get off the bed and there I was with bare feet and bare body gripping a 5” mag-flashlight as if it were a glock and I was sheathed in a bullet-proof body stocking.
Was it a rat? A mouse? Another snake? A possum? Did a raccoon crawl through the open window? A midget? I never did find anything, and I never went back to sleep, either. After searching the entire house I lay back in bed with the cold metal flashlight resting lightly on my sternum. Ready. For sunrise.
So many things go bump in the night when you are floating precariously on a sheet, a plate, bone porcelain thin, when you are on this earth with a crust so flaky. So many things rupture the sense of solidity.
Motherhood has skinned me alive, left me ripe wide open, hollow and fragile. But at the same time it has filled me up, liquid steel poured molten hot into holes I never even knew were there. I am hollow, I am whole, both larger and smaller. I am afraid and brave all at the same time, the sudden release of the energy that is Zoey having ruptured something in me irreversibly. I am made stronger by quaking.


Courtney said...

Nothing is as freaky as having a pet sense something that wakes you!

A few months back my husband was traveling and I woke at 4AM to my St. Bernard, nosed pinned to the window growling like crazy. By the way, she's a silent dog.

About 20 minutes later I heard knocking on my window. While there was no baby in this house (but me), I was petrified. I sat there until the sun came up. Worried sick.

You are one brave Momma...a proud, protective Mom. Zoey has it so good! She's in wonderful hands.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I have a scardy-cat dog that is a bigger baby than I am. She'll spontaneously bark at something like there is a serial killer in my hallway and then run and hide and I'll peak out with a hammer in my hand and it will be a t-shirt I left on the door knob or nothing at all. It gets me EVERY time and I think "this is the time it really is something". A little puppy boy that cried wolf. Seriously, I have called the police to report a potential break in before... I digress...Ok so there is clearly no advice coming from me except that you can use that trick from Julia Roberts in that movie with a slightly autistic Mel Gibson and put a bottle on your door knob so you'll have time to go out the secret passageway before "they" get in... but again, not the point, the point is that you are one badass mommy with a flashlight and you've got it under control!

Jen said...

Oh sister, I feel your pain. Last week my husband was out of town and there was a 5.4 earthquake, and although it was during the day, scared the crap out of me. My hubby is yet again traveling and I am not too happy. When I'm around Leah I put on a very brave face, but in the words of my 2 year old "I cared, Mommy" (I'm scared).

karey m. said...

oh...{sob!} had me at i'm too big to fit into my body...

lovely. pure writing. pure perfection.

~M said...

Amen, sister...I can totally relate. You nailed it. How's that book coming?

Sarah Danielle said...

I just found your blog and I just want to say that I don't have children, but as a woman this post is completely relatable and beautifully written.