Longtime readers (and those who’ve devoured the archives, hello ilu) know that one of the central reasons I started doing How Baby was because becoming a mother was such a fundamental identity shift, not in who I fundamentally was but in what other people expected of me. I was expected to play a well-known role: the happy, gentle homekeeper-mother, bursting with uncomplicated love for her child, who did all the research and made all the right choices but still stayed interesting and employable and not, you know, like a boring mom. It was something I struggled with a LOT, especially dealing with how it felt like a huge piling-on of gendered expectations that I had, until that point, done a decent job of resisting.

These past ten months, though… and especially more towards the end, as other people are returning to work and other children are going to school… it feels like I’m back there again. My domain has shrunk, again, to my home and my child – to the cleaning and the meal planning and the cooking and the cleaning and the appointment-minding and the lesson planning and cleaning and the form-filling-outing and the shopping and the researching and, did I mention, the cleaning, the cleaning that never fucking stops.

This is good, vital, important work, and doing it improves my family and makes living in this increasingly-smaller-seeming apartment feel okay, but it’s not… it’s not… I just wonder, sometimes, how I ended up here. How I saw it coming and tried to jump out of the way, but my feet had been tied to the tracks.

So I’ve been getting reacquainted with my good friend, intrusive thoughts. It’s fun, doing the dishes or reading a book or looking up how to teach Momo about, I don’t know, owls or whatever, and to be just struck with this wave of numb sadness about how it’s all inescapable and too late to change anything.

At least at this point it’s like an old friend who pops by for tea every so often, to gossip about all the emotions I’m not feeling. Hey, you could always– it says, and I roll my eyes, because I’ve heard this joke before, old friend, and I’m not laughing at it any more. But the sadness and the anger it came from is still there.