Do you remember, it was such a long time ago now, our big ones were our first-and-only ones, and we were walking and talking and you said, “I just wish I knew, is it PPD or general incompetence or my inner bitch unleashed?” and I laughed and we pondered how much more breastfeeding there was ahead of us, because the inner bitch could sometimes be soothed into submission with an excess of wine?
(Do you remember, when that joke stopped being funny, the year that I said, “I think I’m drinking too much,” and you said, “Says who?” as you were pouring a glass of wine, and I cried and drank water and you drank wine and it was awkward, until it wasn’t?)
Do you remember—I’ve been thinking about this so much lately—do you remember all our discussions about mood and responsibility and agency and volition and choice and victimhood and “the only person over whose behaviour I have any control is myself”?
You: The only person over whose behaviour I have any control wants to throw the world’s most obscene, outrageous tantrum right now.
Me: Mine too. Shall we let them? Or will that be the end of the world?
It might be. So, instead, I ask your inner bitch if she wants to go for a walk with my inner bitch. I promise I won’t talk.
“It’s definitely not PPD now, is it,” you say, a little wistful, a little ashamed.
“Anomie, ennui, life?” I answer.
“You said you wouldn’t talk,” you snap. I stop. We walk.
There are places on my hill where you can go and walk and no one will see you cry, but you choose the most public paths. You want witnesses. To what? My silence? Your exertion of self-discipline?
It doesn’t matter.
Do you remember the first time we stood here and looked at this view? You don’t. Perhaps I don’t either. But I tell the story anyway. It involves squirting breastmilk, a diaper change gone bad, and toddler vomit on my shoes. You laugh. But then:
You: You said you wouldn’t talk.
Me: I’m sorry. I will be silent.
I remember when talking to you about mood and feeling and responsibility and vulnerability and frustration and fear and life and agency and volition and pain was the only thing that kept me sane. Do you remember?
And I remember when being silent with you, face wet with tears, was all I needed.
My inner bitch is here. Whenever you need to talk. Or walk in silence.