Not Cut Out for this Motherhood Thing
So I actually said the words the other day, "I'm not sure I'm cut out for..." while lamenting my difficult long weekend and the person who I was speaking to (and, believe me, I know that soon people are going to stop speaking to me because I write everything on this blog so let me just say, goodbye friends and family - love you!) said, "motherhood"? It stung a little. It stung a lot. Not because I think that they were being mean but because I think I didn't want to say it and then they did and then I had to face that that was what I was thinking. Ouchie. It hurt.
I've been thinking a lot about this exchange though and realized that, despite the truth of what I said next, which was a defensive, "well, no, because I am a mother and so I have to be cut out for it now," I actually did some detective work on my own thinking and came up with something unexpected. Well, maybe a few unexpected things.
The first is that I think I'm a horrible person, and mother, if I'm not enjoying motherhood and having a child all the time. Isn't that weird? I mean, logically, if I thought this in a conscious way, I would be like, "no stupid, nobody like this ALL THE TIME, you're being crazy." But I don't think it consciously. I think it on this weird emotional plane that doesn't even really register as a thought; more like a terrible feeling of overwhelm and general badness. I think the cycle goes something like this: I'm exhausted and overwhelmed, having a kids is hard, I remember when I didn't have a kid and it was easier, I ask myself what did I expect having a kid, I think to myself that I make bad decisions, and in the end, I'm a bad mom. None of this makes ANY SENSE. And I'm not even sure it goes in that exact order. But that is the general trajectory of the total and complete weirdness.
I think other moms do this differently but ultimately, it all comes out the same in the wash. I blame a lot of stuff on postpartum, but I actually think a lot of mother mourn the lives they had pre-children. I think we are afraid to think of those times and reminisce because for most of us it's just too hard, too painful, to remember what was. I recently had a birthday and a video that a friend had made for me about seven years ago popped up in my Facebook feed and I watched it and it made me sad. I didn't recognize her (her = myself) - I mean I did - but I'm too mired in the grief for that old self to be happy for her and all the fun she used to have. Someone over the holiday asked me what I do for fun and I actually SCOFFED at him which made me feel like one of those loser parents who is like, "I never have any fun cause kids are my life and I am a hallow shell of who I use to be" - they don't usually say that last part, but you get my drift.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not plodding along all day every day like Eyore lamenting the cool chick I used to be, but I do think I am in this weird liminal place where my brain has not caught up to my experience. I guess what I was trying to say in the conversation I cited at the beginning of the post was that I'm not really cut out for babies and toddlers, even though I think I'm doing a bang up job given the demanding parameters of the gig, and that I'm probably better suited for older children who aren't constantly chewing and spitting out their food in some unending quest to get all the essence out of it while not retaining any of the actual nutrition. My daughter is perfect and wonderful and as I said to the person I was conversing with - it's not actually her I worry about. It's me. I worry about me because I know that I'd go to the ends of the earth for Aya, but where does that leave me? Maybe that sounds profoundly selfish but I think it's a question that we have to ask ourselves as mothers. Where does giving everything of ourselves to our children actually leave us? It's a dark place and not one that I want to (re)visit.
So maybe I'm not cut out for motherhood in it's conventional form. I mean, duh, maybe that's what this blog is about. But carving out a new identity as a mother and a woman who just also happens to be a mother is proving to be a lot of work on top of actual work, volunteer work oh, and the raising of a little noodle. I read something by Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, this morning that says that nothing can be found in the past, that it is only the present that is rich with miracles. I have never been one to dwell on the past - I'm much more a future-oriented neurotic - but I think until I get myself firmly rooted in the present, I'm going to miss some serious miracles and shit.