Last night A and I did more cleaning of the house. I hit the basement first, because we wanted to do some laundry and the machines were in the same state they’d been when we moved in: functional, sure, but cobweb and dust-covered, with ominous loops of unnecessary extension cords draped over water pipe connections, and crusty-looking abandoned bits sticking out from the dark crevices of behind and between.
Reader, I am here to say it was absolutely damn disgusting. And also, unfortunately, familiar. Mostly it made me think about how I behaved as a renter (oh, how quickly I’ve taken the mantle of owner! You betcha), that cursory, blasé final clean of an apartment where so many items on the cleaning list are passed off as “Eh, I did that last month, it’s good enough,” or “I’m not pulling out the fridge and sweeping under it. No one does that. Besides, it could fall on me. Or something.” I’m proud to state I’ve never left underwear, socks, slippers, lotion bottles, and lip balm stuffed under and between dryers and washers. But I know the mentality, so while it’s disgusting to clean up, I can’t be too mad–they were, after all, only renting.
Anyway. Before I started cleaning between and around and under, I put lightbulbs in the empty sockets. Usually landlords will charge for that sort of thing. I suppose these landlords did, and then pocketed the cash. As I was screwing in one lightbulb, I had the thought that maybe I could be electrocuted, and gosh, that would probably be bad for the baby. Suffice to say, no electrocution happened, and baby and I are still here. But I have similar thoughts, regularly. I’ll be typing away on my laptop and think, oh oh, this laptop sure is close to my belly. Might be bad for the baby! Uh, HUH.
So I’m think that pregnancy is accompanied by massive, massive tendencies for brain farts of stupidity. And by that, I don’t mean the forgetfulness labeled as “pregnancy brain”, or the easy misogyny of Ha ha, bun in the oven is sucking away all the heat from your brain, girlie, ha ha. (Nor do I mean the complex misogyny, whatever the hell that would be, though I doubt such a thing exists. Misogyny, like many bigotries, exists best in simplicity, in black and white; complexity muddles it, wavers it, even threatens to disperse it completely.)
I think capability for rational thought–be it mine, or A’s–becomes infected with ridiculous what-ifs, probably as a consequence of realizing the sudden and total responsibility that’s coming, responsibility for creating and raising another human being. We will (hopefully) influence and guide a young mind from sweet smiling mush to something that recognizes the world and may survive in it.* Who wouldn’t lose their sense in the face of that?
Or maybe it’s the brain’s way of gaining sense, of training (through catastrophizing, at first) to make this heavy responsibility normal, everyday, doable. Clipping baby fingernails or mucus-sucking with a handy bulb become easier than sweeping the floor or tying shoes. You can bathe your baby without drowning her. You can change a diaper. 10,000 hours, practice makes perfect, Carnegie Hall, whatever. As long as your brain is ready, you can do this. And to get ready, your brain needs to get wild, get creative, imagine all sorts of stuff, yes, even worry.
Okay, so some worries are more important than others. If you hear me start worrying about vaccines causing autism, for example, come over here and smack me upside the head, okay? Anyway, it’s no accident (especially for me and my overbearing literalness) that I’m feeling this way as we’re cleaning up our new place. It’s just a long series of thoughts and actions that drive home, as does the overwhelming imminence of a new, first baby, that we’re no longer renting. It made me feel a little sad for my former renting self, and resolve not to let it disappear. Despite the fact that I will no longer tolerate this crusty-underthings-stuck-to-appliances shit.
Gee, now that I’ve rambled out some lines in my little sandbox, I think I’ll go scrub mildew out of the new shower.
* This is, of course, presuming neurotypicality, and a lack of mental disorders. Which I think is what most parents presume, because despite that list of horrifying responsibility above, it’s still the EASY way. A little ableist, yeah, but also built on the ridiculous hope that your child will have few barriers to survival and an easier life. I want that for this kid, yes.