Victoria Jelinek

The Baby Diaries 9

Everybody knows how to raise children, except the people who have them.

P.J. O’Rourke

angkor-watI took my baby boy to the lovely Welsh assistante maternelle today. She’s still undecided about whether she’ll return to being an assistante maternelle after the last three years in which she’s spent under the famille garder while raising her young son. Even so, she’s kindly agreed to watch my boy for a few hours a day, a few days each week, while my husband is away working as an accompagnateur, and I’m grateful.

So today I dropped him off at hers for the first time, went home to write, and attempted to have something to eat at a leisurely pace. But all I could think about was how I really am a different person now that I’ve had my baby boy and this unsettles me. I feel as though I’m more emotionally tender, and consequently more vulnerable than I’ve ever been in my entire life. A little person depends deeply on me now and I am completely responsible for him. I realise, now, that my life has been relatively carefree thus far. I’ve cared about jobs, work, boyfriends, husbands, sure, but ultimately I’ve always been free to do as I wish. To go out to a dinner at midnight. To sleep till 10am. To miss the last train and take the night bus home or stay with friends. To travel to exotic places with my only concern being to get the correct inoculations beforehand. To leave a job or a place or a man because I’m unhappy. To do most personal things on an impromptu basis. To do most things selfishly.

I’d been so cavalier before having my boy about putting him into care as soon as it was possible so I could resume my professional interests. I was so cavalier about taking him with me on travels to places I want to visit and revisit in the second and third worlds. But now that he is in day care and not with me, I find myself feeling nervous, agitated, and I have an enormous, nebulous sense of guilt. As for traveling to obscure locales with him, I think ‘No way!’ I suddenly fear excessive heat, uncomfortable lodgings, bad water, food poisoning, malaria, typhoid and hepatitis!

I’m not the easy-going mother I’d hoped to be, taking my child everywhere with me and not particularly concerned about dangers, and more carefree. I fear I am conventional. That said, maybe things will change with time as he ages and becomes less vulnerable? Although, from what I hear from my elders, one’s child never really seems grown-up even when they are. Maybe as I learn to trust that my boy is happy in care, or at least not unhappy, I will be able to relax and concentrate on other things. Maybe with time I’ll better remember warm days and nights, exotic food, and the stars of the Southern Hemisphere, rather than its heat, poverty, and potential for bad stomachs.



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You are wonderfully candid in this about your new life with Child. It willgrow easier, I suspect, for you to relax and get involved with your own activities when he becomes less dependent on you–although hat bond, that golden line, will always be linked to you. So it is. So be it.

Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2013 18:39:50 +0000 To:

Comment by Barbara Jelinek

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