Sunday, July 02, 2006

~:W E E K * 2 5 * T U M M Y:~ Ever since coming back from our little vacay I've been depressed. I think the combo of returning to a lot of new calligraphy work (which was my goal, so I'm grateful), pulling together another set of PC syllabi for Summer quarter and looking at an empty nursey got me panicked. Not 10 minutes into pulling in the driveway, my fucking legs start to itch!! I am a wreck. A control freak. All this new and wonderful stuff that I've dreamed of happening IS and what do I do? Every few weeks, I freak out. Guess that's just how I deal. Funny thing is - I don't know I'm freaking until a bad dream hits to tell me I've got crap under the surface that needs addressing. Dreams are great that way. Or as Minus would say, dreams are cool like that.

One dream was about my legs itching while at PC. I'm doing a painting. Pacing back and forth on my feet. Really into the creativity. I look down and poof - I've got this basketball size blister on my ankle that's all gross and bloody - looks like a placenta. A student takes notice and admonishes me for standing on my feet. "You just can't do that now."


So I tell Doug the dream the next morning and he says, "Sounds like you think you can't be a mother and an artist at the same time." And I start to bawl. Which made me feel a little better. Just knowing the fear I'm not admitting to myself is empowering.

I panic about identity. The change of that. And my emotions are getting more and more intense. Last night Peter made me laugh so hard I almost wet my pants. It was wonderful fun, until those tears turned to real tears and it took all I had in me not to cry furiously at the table. It's really INTENSE and weird to feel so fully. It's all or nothing. I am a vessel. This organic creature, pulsing with life, anticipating a change I cannot fully prepare for. Who am I. Who will I be. What will change. What will I give up? What will I gain?

After all this figuring out of life in the second trimester, at 25 weeks, Doug takes me down the hill to take this picture. By the time we walk back up the hill, we are holding hands, I am out of breath and return to this house in Clayton to dinner cooking and my family waiting. Glo says she'll take me to target tomorrow to begin a baby registry. I'm giving her the gun.

Excited and joyful beyond description, powerless against the fear of this wonderful change, I remind myself that none of us are alone. And at the end or should I say, the beginning of this journey is Bimp.


Tania Rochelle said...

I remember a few months after Sadie was born, I was in the middle of a six-mile run, having finally worked back up to that distance. Jogging along, all alone, it struck me that I was STILL ME, which was weird.

As for art, a few years later (I think I had Georgia by then), I went to see a screening of a documentary by filmmaker Camille Billups who'd done a piece called Finding Christa. It was about how she'd given her daughter up for adoption when she was three or four, and how she'd refused to let her family take the little girl (they fought for her) because she knew the child would continue to interfere with her art. The film was so disturbing and heartbreaking--Camille finds her daughter when the daughter is a young adult and Camille still doesn't want to give emotionally--it's ugly and wrenching. It made me angry at Billups--that she'd suggest you can't be both a mother and an artist. Then I realized I was really angry at myself for questioning whether I could. Just because SHE couldn't/wouldn't do it, didn't mean the rest of us were doomed.

I knew I didn't want to be like Camille, that there had to be room in a life for art and children, art and family, art and love. I keep trying to make room and will try until I die.

Nancy said...

dear daughter,
I wish I had some wisdom to give you. The anxiety is understandable but I trust you to walk into this new chapter being able to deal with the newness and love it. You just need to have the nursery ready and all the equipment in ship shape. We'll help and it will be ready before Bimp comes.


Doug Elser said...

the intensity of your emotions has been amazing to witness. and that's not just another way of saying "holy shit, honey, wtf?!" I mean that for someone like me who is very emotionally demonstrative, it's been an incredible process watching your go throgh all these different things....striving to learn and to better yourself all along the way.

that last paragraph you wrote is beautiful...the admission of powerlessness brings a lot of freedom -- and fear -- with it. I like to think of the freedom.

i should take you for a vigorous walk more often.


Tania Rochelle said...

Hey, Anne, I didn't mean to scare you by suggesting it actually entered my mind--trade the kid. Never. I only meant to say Camille's film really made me explore my own fears re the role of the artist/mother.

Rest assured, truly creative people find creative ways to balance all of this, and you're one of the most creative folks I know.

Anne Elser said...

Thank you Tania for saying that. I totally get where you're coming from and wasn't upset about anything you wrote. I have to keep reminding myself that as long as I can balance, I'll be fine. And the fact that so many other creatives have found that balance gives me incentive to do the same.

And I love you, Mom & Doug.

Mary Campbell said...

I think that there is a fear at the root of many creative people that creativity can be a pair of socks. When I have gone through major changes, I have felt at odds with my creativity...thinking that, perhaps, it is just gone...but I realize that only happens when I choose to separate that part of my from the whole of who I am. It is my fear that causes the rift. I think, "...well, I can't have this AND be creative..." Well, that's just a bunch of horse shit. We get to determine the life we want...and, if nothing else, I think this will brand new source of inspiration and excitement to your life. Some people say that everything in life is driven by two emotions: love and fear. I believe this to be true as well. If this is the case, imagine what you can do having this brand new creature that YOU and Doug created in your life...this little person created by you for you to love. I think that is pretty amazing. It is all about balance, and being clear on the life that you want...and you are more than capable of making that happen.

ps. Can't wait for calligraphy class to start!

Anne Elser said...

Mary - Kewelll! You're taking the Calligraphy class. You'll love it.

And yeah I know. Silly that I keep forgetting the creativity comes with motherhood - out little science project - um BIG project. I think the assignment of a new role/title/reponsibility is scary by itself.

You know the feeling of starting with a blank canvas and staring at it, feeling intimidated? That's how I feel about parenthood. Not to mention trying to imagine the birth itself. Oooftah.