I am struggling to take care of Dakota mostly by myself, as my husband struggles with alcohol addiction.
The struggle is in three parts: part the workload, part the mental battle and part the overall challenge of understanding the monumental change my life had made transitioning from book clerk and writer in one northern ski town to mom and mostly homebound Ninja in a completely new southwest ski town.
Let me rewind. In August of 2016, I left a doctor’s appointment for another doctor’s office to reevaluate my blood pressure. With gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, I was helicoptered to Salt Lake City, Utah, where I stayed until ny daughter’s birth two months later, on October 13th.
From Utah, I went to Taos, New Mexico, where my dad had helped my husband move. In fact, my parents both helped because he was struggling with drinking A LOT, and still is. And that leaves me, to put it as simply as possible, a single mom with two kids. We also have five animals- three dogs and two cats.
Now with all of that overly simplified background information behind us, I can continue. This morning the record player is skipping Louis Armstrong, my daughter Dakota-who is now five months old- is munching in her sleep on a bottle of milk, two dogs are out back in the dog run behind our new solar-paneled adobe, and coffee is percolating in the kitchen. My husband is in a jail in Arizona for a few days after being caught sleeping in a parking lot in Phoenix, and already having a warrant out for an open container three years prior on another spontaneous alcohol-induced runaway.
My husband’s mom came over and just hung her head in shame. She gave me a painting from White Sands, and introduced a sage cleansing ritual to rid my body of his emotional hold. I burned the sage and cut invisible ties around my head and limbs with a medieval decorative pocket knife.
I can handle some of the abuse and alcoholism, but then I find an email from a Craigslist personals ad he made while I was in the hospital saying he LOVES Hispanic girls. My mind is racing. Did he answer any of those robotic emails? Did he ever cheat on me? Why would he do that? I was about to have a baby! I had preeclampsia!
Going from busy working woman to stay-at-home mom can be difficult just in the increased workload without the recognition and salary, but it also means a lot of time to think about all of the challenges you face in this new life. For some those challenges are a sweeping mix of small and large, and yet for some they are barely noticeable in the wake of his beautiful perfect little human that has entered your world.
My daughter is a pixie. Her smile lights up the room and she has started giggling and grabbing her feet and gurgling and drooling all over her winnie the pooh bibs. She is a little magic human with long toes, and I want to do everything for her that I feel I missed from my own military upbringing. Everyone said that this love would happen, but my mom’s cold care made me wonder. “You’ll feel a true love you never knew existed.” Okay, sure, Hallmark associate.
But it’s true. She wakes you with screams in the middle of the night and barely opening your eyes you see her wide smile from ear to ear. She takes your finger and grabs on for dear life. She focuses intently like an Olympian gymnast as she stands on one foot and then grins like a new experiment has been revealed and she is the inventor of standing.
This is what the last year was all about- why it was worth it, with the hospital and bedrest and constant tests and induced labor and emergency c-section and magnesium drip and postpartum depression. This is what made moving and getting sick and feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope all worth it in the end- the giggling rainbow, the 6 pounds and ten ounces of light at the end of the tunnel, the bald and blue-eyed silver lining. It was pure joy being present in the moment, and it was inside me all along.