I’m writing to you shirtless, with a tingling leg.
No, it’s not sexy. My leg is asleep because I happened to be sitting cross-legged on the floor when I realized my baby boy was hungry, so naturally I had to nurse him right then and there. I’m shirtless because when I put my clunky travel cup down, which I use to avoid scalding the baby with my lukewarm coffee, I put it on its side. This is an incorrect position leading to coffee on Baby’s playmat. Which, since I’m nursing and the baby feels much better now that he is, naturally leads to a minimum-change-in-position-solution, that is, using my t-shirt to mop up the coffee before it spreads.
I’m a Mommy now. And yes, words to describe the change it brings are trite. And yes, I would now remove each and every one of my limbs with inefficient implements if it were somehow improbably helpful in securing the safety of my child.
I don’t think that makes me less of a person with her own being, even if I did notice his cold more than my own last week; I’m more inclined to think it makes me feel more like the mammal that I am. Producing and caring for our offspring, is, after all, part of being an animal, and not a social construct brought to us by the patriarchy/advertising executives/modern society/et cetera. Which is not to say that feeling utterly inadequate, insecure, and like I have to buy the right object to be a good caregiver, while having no identity and also being all about an amazing career and doing it "all" whatever "all" is, is not brought to us by the same collection of possible evils.
The fact is, I’m having an identity crisis. I’m told by wise people that as a new Mommy, I’m getting to know who I am as Mommy, and that’s a new part of my identity that I’ll have to get to know and I’ll want to define my own way.
Here’s what I don’t understand yet: do I write about being a Mommy? Am I forced there? Do I want to?
But really: is it possible not to write about it? What do I have to prove by avoiding it? That I’m still myself, and not a character usurped by Mommying? That I’m still of interest to the rest of you who don’t have kids? That I’m not abandoning you? That the same things are still important to me or are at least still on the list?
I may not have bought into the Mommy Wars, and the supposed importance of both being at home with the kids, or at work being an independent woman who has kids. But I’ve picked up some terror along the way of losing myself to thinking about different things, talking about different things. I’ve learned to fear that I’ll lose my footing and fall into the well of continually forcing mediocre baby snapshots on others and mass-e-mailing not-so-humorous anecdotes about my brood and generally not being "about" anything else. What is the fear? That parenting implies poor taste? That the childless in my life won’t love me anymore, or will be angry at me for the importance of my progeny? That I will become inconsiderate?
Or is it just a change in content, and the content is all so very unknown that it’s just a wee bit unsettling? Whatever it is, you’ve now been officially warned.