Why is it that I only ever think of a good idea for a blog post when I am nowhere near my computer? That and vacation and life with a 6 month old has kept me from writing in recent months. Of course, this is just one of the so many things in my life that are different since having my son (like sleeping patterns and the time it takes to get ready to leave the house).
I saw an interview with Edie Falco a few months ago. I wish I had an exact quote but she said the one thing about having a family that she wasn’t prepared for was the selflessness that is involved. This really hit a chord with me.
You’re prepared for this complete shift in priorities in some ways, of course… like the middle-of-the-night feedings and working around the baby’s sleep patterns. These are things people can prepare you for. These are things that people talk about. You know they’re coming and when they do, you just whip your breast out or rub your tired eyes and you do what you have to do.
And there are always the jokes about how you won’t matter when the baby gets here and that you’ll always come second to this little person. You laugh … ha ha … and then you lay awake at night and start to really think about all the ways your life will change and wonder if you’re ready for your focus to take such a left turn.
But you really cannot begin to grasp the concept until you’re living it.
It’s more than planning your day around naps and breastfeeds. It’s more than feeling sleepy for months (years?) on end because you’re awake when the baby is. It’s more than ordering iced tea at a restaurant instead of the three beer that you really want. It’s this whole shift of ‘self’.
The past six months I am feeling like I’m not even sure who I am anymore. So much of me has changed… many of my daily activities have changed, either because I can’t do them (like having a few casual drinks) or they don’t fit into my routine anymore (like getting in a good workout). I don’t have time for hobbies that I enjoy. When I get half an hour to myself, it’s not to take a nice bubble bath with a glass of wine but to do a load of laundry. I’ve gone four days without a shower (more than once) because I chose to have a nap instead of clean myself when a spare hour came along. Anyway, my point is that a lot of those little things that made me ‘me’ before becoming pregnant are gone; they just don’t fit into my life anymore.
So what makes me the new ‘me’ then? I’m a woman and a wife and a friend and I know they’re in there but it’s suddenly really hard to see past the breast feeds and diapers and put my finger on this new identity. It’s even harder to see past the piles of laundry that never end and the three household chores that I do over and over again. Suddenly, I’m ‘mother’ and it’s really easy to get to the end of the day and think, “All I’ve done all day is clean up puke and change poop and where am I in all of that?”.
Yes, I expect that I will get back to some of those old things… some day. But in the meantime, I feel a little lost. Becoming a mother sometimes feels like you’re taking bits of yourself, chucking them to the side, and inserting these new unfamiliar (and sometimes uncomfortable) “mommy bits”. I won’t say the other parts of you die because that sounds morbid and regretful but you really do have to do some tweaking and massaging to get those “mommy bits” to fit into your idea of you.
So yeah, some days I feel a little lost and confused and am not sure where my ‘self’ is headed. But other days I feel like I’m sliding into that mommy role easily and doing it well. I guess I just keep hanging onto those days, the ones where I think I might actually be doing something right, and hope the ‘me’ that comes out the other side might just be ‘new and improved’ after all.