Saturday, it started snowing in Bulgaria. It was a light, constant snow. By Sunday morning, the city was pretty much snowed in. Since it was our day off, we decided it was perfect timing and dug out our car (well, Nikola dug out our car- I stayed inside with Peatuk) to go to the mall get Peatuk his first sled.
I like the idea of sledding, and I loved purchasing a traditional sled for Peatuk. But, honestly, I hate actually sledding. It stems from a vague memory of sledding in New York- crossing a field to go up a steep hill and, somewhere along the way, falling in a semi-frozen pond. My clothes were wet, I was cold, and miserable isn’t a strong enough word to express how I felt. Since then, snow and cold has not been something I enjoy.
I don’t enjoy the constrictive feeling of layers of clothes.
I don’t enjoy how long it takes to bundle up.
I don’t enjoy cleaning puddles of cold, dirty water off of the floor afterwards.
If it is winter, my go-to desire is a fireplace and alcohol, not playing and frolicking in the snow.
Because of this, I was secretly ecstatic when Peatuk’s naptime came and we only had enough time to walk him home from the store on his sled. Two hours later, though, Peatuk was up and Nikola was itching to take him outside despite the rapidly fading light. At first I refused, and Nikola decided they would go without me, but in the end I decided that I needed to support their playfulness and tagged along.
It took about half an hour to get all of us dressed and ready to go, and an extra ten minutes just to put Peatuk’s gloves on (he HATES gloves), and by the time we trooped outside, it was completely dark.
It was a beautiful night. It wasn’t too cold, the snow was fluffy and light, and there hadn’t been a chance for any ice to form. Peatuk was ecstatic. He laughed and giggled and grinned and did all of the other wonderful things that make parenting worth the work.
Yet, honestly, I was only there because I felt obligated. Because, living in a time where every moment is considered the most important experience ever, I didn’t want to miss my son’s first time sledding. Even though I don’t like sledding, I felt like I was somehow a bad mother if I willingly missed such a “big first.”
I spent the majority of my life breaking down my assumptions about what it meant to love and be loved in a romantic relationship. I riled against societal pressures towards hetero-monogamy. I defined my own self. But this parenting thing came so quickly and so unexpectedly that I find myself thrown into a weird anxiety about what type of mother I should be, and somehow, no matter what I do, I come up short. Even when I go out in the snow to watch my son sledding for the first time, I fail to be the perfect mother because I am still aware that I don’t really want to be there.
Even when I try to deconstruct these ideas of motherhood and parenting- even when I try to disengage from the constant pressure of living up to the idea of perfection in a confusing, conflicted, ill-defined social realm, I am unable to. I tell myself it doesn’t matter. What matters is my relationship with my son. But somehow, it keeps creeping in.
It is one of the many things I am working on, and to be honest, redefining attraction and romance was a lot more stumbling fun than redefining parenting.