Quite some time ago, parties I went to didn’t start until midnight and didn’t end until we were so written off we could barely see. We took too many drugs, danced a little too wildly, stayed up far too long and remembered way too little by the time Monday came around. Nowadays, parties I go to start at 9:30 am, last a neat two hours, and I can be home just in time for my afternoon nap. It suits me wonderfully. These days, I also dress up as a fairy and face paint people, which – come to think of it – is not at all unlike the parties I used to go to, really. They are much more wholesome, too, the parties these days, since they mostly involve kids. There is nothing quite like listening to small children tell you all about their world, or watching their faces explode like the sun when some bubbles are blown into the air around them. You can’t help but smile. You can’t help but think, My god, life is good. Happiness is a funny thing. It’s like motherhood. It turns out that you’ve already gone ahead and done it before you realize you couldn’t possibly do it. Not in a million years. Had I seen myself now, back then when I was deep in mud with no idea how to get clean, I would have lifted my eyebrows and scoffed. It just wasn’t possible, the contentment, the life I could make for myself. But suddenly I’m here, without really knowing how.
On another note, all our people love Ella. They flock to her like a warm fire. She’s like a drug they fill their syringe with and deposit straight into their veins. You can see it in their faces. The stoned glee. The woozy glow. I could give you the names of at least ten people who would kidnap her and raise her as their own if they thought they could get away with it. I suspect that all babies have this effect on doting loved ones. The purity of babies is tangible, like they haven’t yet learned to put guards up around themselves. They are open in the most lucid way, and people plug into that, feasting off their goodness and simplicity and innocence. Sometimes I worry that I’m merely her driver. They say it happens, that feeling of unimportance when all eyes and hands grab for your baby instead of out to you. It’s nothing new, really. I’ve felt it since day one. Sometimes, a selfish part of me feels deprived when they take her from me. Sometimes, an insecure part of me feels disappointed when she smiles at them like she smiles at me, like I want to be more special to her. A lot of the time though, I tell myself to stop all the talk of nonsense and step back and look around. I try to absorb every single one of their beaming smiles as they look upon her, and when I do, I feel proud that we made something so perfect. I feel glad I can give them her. She makes our people happy. Mum made her giggle the other day and she looked back at me, bright and delighted, and said, “My gosh, she’s gorgeous.” It felt nice that someone else got her magic, and it was comforting to feel Ella surrounded by so much unspeakable love. I am well aware that she is privileged; one of the lucky ones. I know about the babies whose first taste of life is grossly bitter.
I do wonder though, if this intense, clingy attachment I feel towards her will fade with time. Surely it won’t be a good look – scurrying after her as she walks through the high school gates, batting me away in outrage. It’s nuts, the attachment. It can turn me wild sometimes. Mostly, I feel as though it’s the most beautiful, most nourishing thing I have ever experienced. At times, though, I feel as though it has ruined my life. I care so much now. I’m exposed and vulnerable, like I never was before. It can make a person shaky and crazy out of control. Will I ever stop seeing her as an extension of myself, I wonder? Will I ever be able to separate myself from her? Will my heart ever put itself back in my own chest, and stay steady there, where it belongs?
No one, I suppose.