You must always check a silence, not because the baby might have choked, but because it is in the middle of destroying something, thoroughly and slowly, with great and secret pleasure. It is important to remember this — you run back to the room, not to see if the baby needs resuscitation, but to save your floppy disks. Once you realise where the balance actually lies you can free yourself from the prison of worry. I know this. I am an expert. Some people, as they mount the stairs, might listen for the sound of a toy still in use — to me, this was the sound of the baby randomly kicking buttons in a sudden choking or epileptic fit. I used to read the ‘Emergencies’ section in the How to Kill Your Baby books all the time. The How to Kill Your Baby books are so popular that I assume some part of us wants to do just that. If the unconscious works by opposites, then it is a murderous business too, giving birth.
How to Kill Your Baby: A List:
Too much salt, fungally infected honey, a slippy bath surface, suddenly jealous pets, permanently jealous siblings, a stupid or pathological babysitter, the stairs, a house that goes on fire while you are ‘outside moving the car’, a child-snatcher, a small plastic toy, a playful jiggle that is as bad as a shake, an open cutlery drawer, a necklace, a string, a plastic bag, a piece of burst balloon, an electric cord, a telephone cord, a lollipop, a curtain cord, an inhaled sweet, an accidentally suffocating pillow, a smoky room, the wrong kind of mattress, an open window, a milk allergy, a nut allergy, a bee sting, a virus, a bacterial infection, a badly balanced walker, a bottle of bleach, all kinds of weedkiller, both on the lawn or in the bottle, pesticides, miscellaneous fumes, all carcinogens including apples, a failure to apply sun cream, the lack of a hat, battery-produced eggs, inorganic meat, cars. You might also have Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy without knowing it, so it is a good idea to check yourself for this, from time to time.
As far as I can see from the news reports, one of the most dangerous creatures in a child’s life is a stepfather, but the books don’t seem to mention them. They warn against mothers’ endless sloppiness with dangerous domestic objects, but they never mention their taste in men.
When the baby is eight months old, she cries every time I move out of sight. This separation anxiety can get quite wearing — it is so large and so illogical. Besides, I don’t need to be reminded that I’m not going anywhere, I am with this baby all the time. But I wonder if part of the problem isn’t my own anxiety when I leave the room. Will she still be alive when I get back? I picture the court case.
‘And why, pray tell, did you leave the baby?’
‘I . . . A call of nature, your honour.’
He pauses. A ripple of sympathy runs through the courtroom.
‘Well, I suppose even the best mothers must er um,’ though you know he thinks we shouldn’t. ‘Case dismissed. I suppose.’
Mothers worry. Fathers worry too, of course. But mothers are supposed to worry, and fathers are supposed to reassure. Yes, she is all right on the swing, no, he will not fall into the stream, yes, I will park the buggy in the shade, oh, please get a grip.
Is it really a gender thing? Maybe the people who worry most are the ones who spend the most time with the baby, because babies train us into it — the desperation of holding, walking, singing, distracting. Babies demand your entire self, but it is a funny kind of self. It is a mixture of the ‘all’ a factory worker gives to the conveyor belt and the ‘all’ a lover offers to the one he adores. It involves, on both counts, a fair degree of self-abnegation.
This is why people who mind children suffer from despair; it happens all of a sudden — they realise, all of a sudden, that they still exist. It is to keep this crux at bay perhaps — that is why we worry. Because worry is a way of not thinking something through.
I think worry is a neglected emotion — it is something that small-minded people do — but it has its existential side too. Here is the fire that burns, the button that chokes, here is the kettle, the car, the bacterium, the man in a mac. On the other side is something so vulnerable and yet so huge — there is something unknowable about a baby. And between these two uncertainties is the parent; completely responsible, mostly helpless, caught in an ever-shrinking circle of guilt and protectiveness, until a kind of frozen passivity sets in. There is a kind of freedom to it too — the transference of dread from the self to the child is so total: it makes you disappear. Ping! Don’t mind me.
The martyred mother is someone uplifted, someone who has given everything. She is the reason we are all here. She is also, and even to herself, a pain in the neck.
I think mothers worry more than fathers because worry keeps them pregnant. To worry is to possess, contain, hold. It is the most tenacious of emotions. A worry — and a worrier — never lets go. ‘It never ends,’ says my mother, ‘it never ends,’ meaning the love, but also the fret.
Because worry has no narrative, it does not shift, or change. It has no resolution. That is what it is for — not ending, holding on. And sometimes it is terrible to be the one who is held, and mostly it is just irritating, because the object of anxiety is not, after all, you. We slip like phantoms from our parents’ heads, leaving them to clutch some Thing they call by our name, because a mother has no ability to let her child go. And then, much later, in need, or in tragedy, or in the wearing of age, we slip back into her possession, because sometimes you just want your mother to hold you, in her heart if not in her arms, as she is still held by her own mother, even now, from time to time.
Anne Enright, ‘Worry’ in Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood, London: Vintage, 2005, 177-79.
Ko slišiš tišino, moraš vedno preveriti, kaj se dogaja; pa ne zato, ker se dojenček morda duši, ampak zato, ker temeljito, počasi ter z velikim in skritim užitkom nekaj uničuje. To si moramo zapomniti – v sobo ne stečemo zato, da bi videli, ali moramo dojenčka oživljati, ampak zato, da rešimo svoje cedeje. Ko se zaveš, kaj je na tehtnici, se lahko osvobodiš okovov skrbi. Jaz to dobro vem. V tem sem strokovnjakinja. Ko gredo nekateri ljudje po stopnicah proti sobi, morda poslušajo, če se otrok še igra z neko igračo – pri meni je bil to zvok otroka, ki zaradi dušenja ali epileptičnega napada pritiska naključne gumbe računalnika. Včasih sem neprestano brala razdelke »Nujni primeri« v knjigah Kako ubiti svojega dojenčka. Te knjige so tako priljubljene, da sklepam, da želi kanček nas storiti prav to. Če podzavest deluje v nasprotjih, je rojevanje otrok morilski posel.
Načini, kako ubiti svojega dojenčka:
Preveč soli, med z glivicami, spolzka tla v kopalni kadi, nenadoma ljubosumne domače živali, večno ljubosumni bratje in sestre, neumna ali neprištevna varuška, stopnice, hiša, ki zagori, ko greš samo »prestavit avto«, ugrabitelj otrok, plastična igračka, igrivo zibanje, ki je enako hudo kot stresanje, odprt predal za pribor, verižica, vrvica, plastična vrečka, košček počenega balona, električni kabel, telefonski kabel, lizika, vrvica za zavese, vdihnjen bonbon, vzglavnik, ki ga po nesreči duši, zakajena soba, napačna vrsta vzmetnice, odprto okno, alergija na mleko, alergija na oreške, čebelji pik, virus, bakterijska okužba, slabo postavljena hojica, plastenka belila, vse vrste herbicidov, na travi in v plastenki, pesticidi, raznovrstni plini, vsa rakotvorna hrana, vključno z jabolki, neuporaba kreme za sončenje, neuporaba kape, jajca kokoši iz baterijske reje, neekološko pridelano meso, avtomobili. Poleg tega imate morda nevede Munchausnov sindrom po namestniku, zato občasno preverite, ali imate simptome.
Iz novic lahko razberem, da je eno najnevarnejših bitij v otrokovem življenju očim, a tega nobena knjiga ne omeni. Knjige mame svarijo pred malomarnostjo pri uporabi nevarnih predmetov v hiši, nikoli pa ne omenijo njihove izbire moških.
Ko je dojenčica stara osem mesecev, joka vsakič, ko grem v drug prostor. Ta separacijska anksioznost lahko postane precej naporna, ker je tako vseobsegajoča in nelogična. Poleg tega res ne rabim opomnika, da nikamor ne grem, ker sem itak ves čas z dojenčkom. Sprašujem pa se, če ni del težave tudi moja anksioznost, ko jo pustim v drugi sobi. Bo še živa, ko pridem nazaj? Kar predstavljam si, kako bi bilo videti sojenje.
»Zakaj ste torej dojenčka pustili samega?«
»Morala sem … opraviti potrebo.«
Sodnik obmolkne. V sodni dvorani se sliši val sočustvovanja.
»No, najbrž morajo tudi najboljše mame …« Čeprav se vidi, da misli, da ne bi smele. »Primer ovržen. Če res mora biti.«
Mame skrbi. Očete tudi, seveda. Ampak naloga mam je, da jih skrbi, naloga očetov pa, da jih pomirijo. Ja, na gugalnici bo vse v redu, ne, ne bo padel v potok, ja, voziček bom postavil v senco, joj, prosim, spravi se k sebi.
Pa gre res za razliko med spoloma? Mogoče imajo več skrbi tisti, ki z dojenčkom preživijo več časa in ki jih dojenček navadi na obupano potrebo, da jih objemajo, nosijo, jim pojejo in jih zamotijo. Dojenčki zahtevajo tvoj celoten jaz, ampak ta jaz je nenavaden. Gre za mešanico »vsega«, kar na primer v delo za tekočim trakom vloži delavec, in »vsega«, kar ljubimec daje svoji ljubljeni osebi. V obeh primerih je potrebna precejšna mera odrekanja.
Zato so ljudje, ki skrbijo za otroke, obupani – kar naenkrat ugotovijo, da še vedno obstajajo. Mogoče skrbimo zato, da bi se izognili soočanju s tem dejstvom. Skrb je namreč način, da o nečem ni treba globoko premišljevati.
Mislim, da je skrb zanemarjeno čustvo – je nekaj, kar čutijo ozkogledi ljudje – ima pa tudi eksistencialno plat. Glej, tam je ogenj, ki lahko opeče, gumb, ki lahko zadavi, vroč lonec, avto, bakterija, moški v temnem plašču. Na drugi strani pa je nekaj tako ranljivega in hkrati tako velikega – na dojenčku je nekaj neznanega. Med tema dvema negotovostma je ujet starš; popolnoma odgovoren, večinoma nemočen, ujet v vse manjšem krogu krivde in zaščitništva, dokler ne nastopi nekakšna otrpla pasivnost. V skrbi se skriva tudi neke vrste svoboda – prenos strahu zase na strah za otroka je celovit: in z njim izgineš. Puf! Ne, ne skrbi zame.
Mučeniška mati je poveličana, vse je dala od sebe. Ona je razlog, da smo danes vsi tukaj. Hkrati pa je zoprna, tudi sama sebi.
Mislim, da mame bolj skrbi kot očete zato, ker tako ostanejo noseče. Skrbeti pomeni imeti v lasti, vsebovati, držati. Gre za najbolj trdoživo čustvo. Skrb – in skrbeči – nikoli ne popusti. »Nikoli se ne konča,« pravi moja mama, »nikoli se ne konča.« In v mislih ima ljubezen, pa tudi skrbi.
Ker skrbi ni mogoče pripovedovati, se ne preoblikujejo in ne spremenijo. Nimajo razpleta. Zato pa tudi obstajajo – da ne končamo, ne odnehamo. In včasih je grozno, da si ti tista oseba, ki jo zadržujejo, večino časa pa je samo nadležno, ker predmet teh skrbi nisi ti. Kot duhovi se izmuznemo iz glav naših staršev, pustimo jih z nečim, kar kličejo po našem imenu, ker mama ne more popolnoma izpustiti svojega otroka. Potem pa, veliko pozneje, v stiski, tragediji ali starosti, spet zdrsnemo v njeno last, ker včasih samo hočemo, da bi nas mama objemala, vsaj v srcu, če že ne v naročju, tako kot tudi njo še zdaj včasih objema njena mama.
I translated Anne Enright's short essay “Worry,” published as part of the non-fiction book, Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood. In her essay, the author recounts different worries that mothers are confronted with. She elevates the role of a mother and protects her importance. She accomplishes that by using an ironic and playful tone and earnest storytelling. She draws her thoughts on the worries of parenthood from her own experience as a mother.
I approached the translation of the short essay with attentiveness and care. To understand the text thoroughly, the first step was to read it repeatedly. I needed to internalize its message and meaning. At first, I translated the whole text in one sitting and then came back to it every few days to improve it. The translation of the text posed many translation challenges, which I tried to solve in a way that would best serve the reader. My main objective was to get the message across, even if it meant opting for a word with a different meaning that would better suit the Slovenian public. One such example was the translation of the word “floppy disks.” I decided to use a Slovenian word for “CDs” instead of a literal translation since most people in Slovenia do not have any floppy disks at home. Thus, the reader can better relate to the text, and the overall message of the original text is retained. Another word that was problematic was “mac” (“the man in a mac”), which is a raincoat, and it would be possible to translate it verbatim. However, in Slovenia, we do not associate it with bad people lurking in the dark. Therefore, I decided to translate it as “moški v temnem plašču” (“a man in a dark coat”), with which I retained the macabre connotation and made it easier for a Slovene reader to understand it. There were also many instances where I needed to find a Slovenian equivalent because a word-for-word translation simply would not make sense in Slovenian. Some examples of such problematic parts are "prison of worry", "fungally infected honey", "court case", "pray tell", "call of nature", "get a grip", and "gender thing". I searched for and found equivalents which enabled the natural flow of the Slovenian translation.
I decided to retain the author’s style of writing and stay as true to the original text as possible. In the second paragraph, her style of writing with no periods expresses the feeling of being overwhelmed by all possible dangers that may befall a child. It feels like she erupts, says it all very quickly, with no pauses in between. I translated it in the same way, despite the fact that I could not avoid using some subordinate clauses. This means that the text is more complex to read, but in this instance, it does not interfere with the intended meaning of the paragraph. A part of her style is also the use of em dashes. I retained them in places where it was sensible but replaced them with en dashes, which are the grammatically correct punctuation marks in Slovenian. However, I decided to omit them in places where it did not seem natural for a Slovenian translation.
In conclusion, the translation process was not without its challenges, but it was a learning experience. A translation is always best if it is a joint effort. My text was edited by two other translators and together we produced a good translation.