The Tidal Wave, The Undertow.

I felt you. Sunday morning. I was in bed, and my body had managed to contort itself into a kind of half twist at the torso. In the stillness, as the darkened winter daylight wafted through the window, there you were—all your tiny ounces aflutter, stretching toward the edges of your warm, widening room.

You felt like a ripple of water under the skip of a stone.

When you first took root, I would awaken panicked every morning, acutely, uneasily aware that you were present and wholly unsure what I was supposed to do with you. This was why I told everyone about you so early. I didn’t trust myself as the sole bearer of such a profound actuality. You were too large an occurrence to keep secret; even before you could be felt, you seemed to me a seahorse, a lavish curl of vertebrae, all this soft and pliant tissue pulling itself into bigger whirls of baby everyday.

In my mind, you have this rich interior life. You’re thinking about the time Before, which was vast and infinite. You’re anxious about who you’ll be on the Outside, terrified you won’t remember the refinement, the satisfaction of eternity. None of us do, once we’re here. I’m sorry to have pulled you from it.

But now I feel you moving. And I must admit: this makes me selfish. The Outside yearns for you now, tangible and finite. I want to watch you swell into someone incredible and I’m desperately impatient about it.

You’ve made my life a precipice. I’m driven by a wave of want, propelled by intricate fantasies of what our lives together will be, pushed toward an ideal apex, a fever pitch of wonder: you’re there.

But in this state, I also feel poised to crash. There are terrors, too, and doubts. I have no idea who you’ll be—or who I’ll be to you. How often will we fail each other? Will we grow old and apart, without ever understanding who the other truly is? Will you read these essays about your pre-self and feel alienated rather than adored?

Is it possible that we will prove to be too much for each other?

As often as I marvel, I’m also overwhelmed. Unlike so much of my life, you will not remain interior. You are not a philosophy or ideal; you’re flesh, incubating. And when you arrive, I will be your only source. I have often been a source, but never someone’s only.

The magnitude of this is enough to pull me under.

You mustn’t worry; I don’t plan to succumb. Mama trades in melodrama and rarely takes leave of her senses. But this bit about the precipice is true: you’re the tidal wave and the undertow. You’re the division between Before and After; you’re the gravest test of my sink/swim mettle.

I do not intend to drown.


4 responses to “The Tidal Wave, The Undertow.”

    • i’m thinking of collecting nine months worth of these into a manuscript. but it needs some sort of connecting thread, if it’s to be publishable. a hook, i guess.

  1. Well, you have some good themes that can help you work towards a connecting thread. Surprise pregnancy. Breaking up with a long-time love. Impending motherhood. Impending single motherhood. You’ve got fear, excitement, joy, disappointment, etc all wrapped into one.

    A lesser writer wouldn’t be able to weave all of these things together, but in your blog posts, you do so beautifully. Just beautifully, Stacia.

    The problem is, you’re right; you need a hook. Readers will immediately empathize with you and they’ll see your talent. But a story arc is what’s missing. Right now, your posts deal with how you’re feeling, what you’re going through day-to-day, and what you hope for in the future. As your pregnancy continues, a story arc will play out, and your hook will be a little easier to spot. So don’t worry too much. Just keep writing. You’re likely to write your way to your hook.

    I know Eat, Prey, Love is getting lambasted on the PB site, but I believe Gilbert is good at doing what you want to do. She laid out an experience that was traumatic for her — controversial and whiny as it may be to others. But even readers who question her decision-making in the first chapter know what it feels like to yearn for something more, even when what you’ve got looks pretty damned good. Everyone knows what it’s like to feel in over your head, or to realize that what you thought you wanted isn’t what you want at all. How Gilbert came to feeling that way is sorta irrelevant for the sake of the comparison I’m trying to make. My point is, she took an experience, reflected it back to us so that we understood how she felt, and then she used that as a springboard for her book.

    Well you’ve already got your springboard. Gilbert’s led her around the world. Think about where you want yours to lead you. It may be something you can’t articulate but can recognize. And as you continue to write, it very well may become clear.

    Also? Did I mention Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions to you in another comment somewhere? I feel like I have. But I can’t be sure. Anyway, the tone of Lamott’s book is different from what you’re doing. But I think you might find it useful and, at the very least, entertaining.

  2. It is my belief you will definitely stay afloat… This worries me so as a person who has not had children and who is terrified of having them, then… being horribly afraid of failing them:

    “I have no idea who you’ll be—or who I’ll be to you. How often will we fail each other?”

    I think you state your faults, your worries, and your hopes so eloquently you manage to steer even the most stubborn individuals with your words. I feel obligated to read, to follow through, to continue to know how you feel about the life growing w/in you. Continue you on, Stacia…

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