Today, When I Could Do Nothing
I never expected to be a mother. I was forty-six when she was born, and I spent 21 days in the hospital after her birth. I was late getting to know her. Our first year was one of isolation, exhaustion, gratitude, and confusion. We put her in daycare two days a week after her first birthday. I felt guilty when I wasn’t with her, and I felt guilty when I wasn’t working; I wasn’t fully present for either. The shelter-in-place order changed everything. We were back to those early days, but this time I was head over heels in love with her.
Esme was eighteen months old when the quarantine began. She and I stayed inside for weeks. We started making pictures daily as a way to fill the hours. These were the only times I was completely in the moment, not worried or anxious. I looked for magic and escape. I photographed the things I wanted to hold in my heart, and I tried to experience this strange new world through her eyes. And we were careful, so very careful. She was never supposed to be here. She could all too easily disappear.
We have slowly returned to a somewhat normal life. But there exists a push and a pull, a need for freedom and a desire to cocoon. The separation process that would have occurred naturally has been suspended. I’m late getting to know the person I am now. Our boundaries are lines drawn in the sand, gone before I can grasp them. I want to dive into her, I want to push her away. We no longer live in fear of losing each other, but I wonder what we have lost and gained of ourselves.
This is a work in progress.