Actually, I have been... oh I don't know... assessing. Pursing my lips. Drumming my fingers on my chin. Staring reflectively into the middle distance. I have also been rearranging all the bookshelves, cleaning out the upstairs closets, studying Ghàidhlig nouns and sticking handwritten labels onto the tops of my spice jars. Busywork, obviously, something to keep my devil's workshops from idleness while I consider what comes next.
Yes, yes, I know reproduction is not a full-time job for most people. My own mother managed to create two perfectly acceptable children and still have a life. Many, most, all of my dearest friends have had children (or not) and have still worked, hobbied and scheduled routine oil changes every 3000 miles. But me, I was, shall we say, a little absorbed by the process. Shellshocked, even. Capable of doing A today and possibly B tomorrow. Probably not C; C was too much to expect.
Maybe it was the miscarriages. Hell, of course it was the miscarriages. I spent ten years being pregnant and notpregnant and it was draining. Draining, I tell you.
Then, finally, gratefully, IVF IVF IVF, bedrest, baby twins, toddler twins, preschool Edward, kindergarten Edward... not to mention the challenge of finding appropriately shaped educational holes for Patrick's charming but oddly shaped intellectual pegs... nothing more to juggle than any other parent but clearly I am not an overachiever. I have been content to kick back in contemplation of three mostly happy, healthy children; one presumably complacent husband; a handful of good friends and an exquisitely organized spice drawer and call it day. Job well done. Have a Junior Mint, Julia. In fact have two.
The shift from May to October felt seismic. Not to point any fingers (looking at you, Cypress Hill) but being able to drop the kids at school and leave them there (without having to first pry them off my leg and then return, say, to pick someone up for thrice weekly appointments or anything) and be confident in the knowledge that they are all fine... it's been kinda liberating. Like, for the first time in fifteen years I no longer feel as if all of my energy is being sucked into creating and sustaining the next generation because you know what? The next generation is perfectly capable of dragging one of the dining room chairs into the pantry and getting her own Cheerios at six o'clock on a Saturday morning because I AM SLEEPING AND I SHALL CONTINUE TO DO SO FOR AT LEAST ANOTHER HOUR AND WITH GOD AS MY WITNESS I SHALL NEVER FEEL GUILTY AGAIN.
I love my moderately sized but functional human beings and they are growing less reliant upon me every minute of every day and that is a very good thing. While I am not saying my work here is done (here, my house. not here, my blog. my god did you think we were breaking up? just because I took a little time off when I was too embarrassed to tell you that I didn't know what to do with myself? no! no no no. c'mere, hug. how could I live without you?) I do feel like the work has changed. It's like I just left an afternoon movie and it's still light outside and everything feels a little weird.
Right now I am trying to decide if I am a grownup who should try to find a way to go back to my unlamented career, a pseudo-retiree who can apply for my dream job as a stock clerk at Target or a writer who finally has time to write.
But ultimately - to return to the root of my prolonged silence - I am struggling with the shame I feel at the sense that I am now unqualified to do anything at all.