Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 10-01-2011
Tags: Gina Perkins, gratifying, new mommie, new mommy, personal space, soul, space, time
I think it’s time that even our modified version of co-sleeping comes to an end. DJ seems to have adapted well to her big girl bed, and I seem to have gained the confidence that she is safe in her sea of breathable blankets and guardrails.
While I was lying with her the other night, it occurred to me, “I have ten inches of space right now.” Considering that a twin mattress is 39 inches wide, and that DJ is over 2 feet tall (and lays horizontally across the bed), that leaves me about ten inches to try to find a comfortable position. Now, I haven’t busted out the tape measure, but I can guarantee that even lying on my side, hips stacked one on top of the other, the depth of my body is more than ten inches. No wonder I can’t get comfortable, can’t sleep, and can’t stop waking up with a criss cross pattern on my nose from being pressed up against the mesh guardrail.
I started thinking about this whole “ten inches of space” phenomenon, and realized that it’s really a true measure for all of motherhood. When DJ is awake, there’s little space between us as we play. As we ride in the car from one errand to the next, even her car seat is belted in closely behind mine. I bathe DJ, I feed DJ, I change DJ’s diapers– all of which are duties in obvious, close proximity to her (not to mention the abundance of hugs and kisses that I give her throughout the day!). I am living my life with less than a foot of personal space around me. I have not one, but two shadows attached to me.
The incessant annoyance that I feel toward my pets is beginning to make sense. Just as I gain enough freedom to stretch out my arms, inevitably a cat or a dog reaches for my lap. “Get away from me!” has become my typical response to their cry for attention. Up until recently, I hadn’t given much thought as to why my affection for them had changed – but I get it now, I am uninterested in inviting anything else into my beloved, and minuscule, lot of personal space once I finally get it.
I just started reading a new book last night, and the author was talking about how our generation of parenting is so different from our grandparent’s. When our parents were growing up, they were safe to play outside. They’d come home from school and not return to the house until dinner was ready – which was about the same time that dad was getting home from work, too. This left the mom of the house (our grandmothers) with plenty of alone time to get stuff done, and to perhaps, even enjoy a moment of solitude. These days, we are unable to let our children play without supervision. We are unable to let them wander down to the neighbor’s house, trusting they’ll return home safely once the sun begins to go down. We have to be with them, sometimes less than a foot away from them, at almost all times.
When we become parents, we willingly wave goodbye to our personal space. While it’s imperative that we carve out time for ourselves, for our marriages, and for our healthy friendships – it’s not always easy to do. We must get creative. We must be selective, and we must reprioritize. I am slowly (very, very slowly) learning that while DJ is napping, I should be doing the things that I cannot do while she is awake – like soaking in a hot bath, having an uninterrupted phone call with a dear friend, reading a book, writing, or even taking a nap in my own bed. It’s all too tempting to fold those loads of laundry, to pick up all the toys, to scrub the grout in the shower – but with such limited personal space, should we really be giving it over to chores? The thought of giving my ten inches of space to the sink of dishes makes me want to puke, actually.
I am committed to using my personal space in more gratifying ways. I am certain that if I allow myself a break from the monotony of the day, and focus solely on what feels nurturing to my soul, then I can allow my cat back onto my lap – and learn to better appreciate the closeness that I share with my daughter.