It becomes a different world when I’m the only one awake with Lorelei at some silly hour of the morning. When I’m trying not to fall asleep as I feed her, every thought and feeling is more intense and difficult to avoid. It’s the effect of the witching hour, that timeless, dark stretch of midnight in which the body drifts but the mind is more lucid. I think of the mistakes I’ve made that day and my best laid plans gone astray between tending to my hungry little mynock. In the quiet, there’s nowhere for regret, frustration or sadness to conveniently stow away.
In the past, I avoided that symptom of my anxiety by queuing up one YouTube video after another, until I fell asleep in front of the screen. Now I have someone who needs me there in every sense, body and mind, I can’t be so cowardly with my own emotions. I have to face up to the little mishaps, whether or not they were my fault, so I can learn from them and grow as a role model to my daughter.
Every Jedi takes on the challenge to accept that their emotions, for better or worse, are irrepressible but must not be allowed to interfere with their duties. In the same way, it’s inevitable that any new parent will want to throw things after the second pee that’s avoided the nappy in one wee-hours changing session. I’m learning that it’s no use feeling guilty over the gut response, because it can’t be helped. What I can help is how I manage and act on those feelings, just like Lorelei has been training her daddy to surface from the whirlpool of puke and poop and take a deep breath.
As I sat propped up on pillows with my little girl resting on my chest that night, I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. But then she opened her eyes and smiled at me and it was suddenly okay to cry, to get all my feelings out in the open, and finally accept them.