Portrait of the Artist as a (Near) Middle-Aged Mother
Excuse my longtime hiatus. I went on the craziest adventure of all. Into the trenches of motherhood, a wild journey from one laundry-filled day to the next.
The Baby is now almost one and a half and I just celebrated my second mother’s day. The newborn phase was one part acid-trip in the desert (holy mind expansion) and two parts wilderness survival (please send
water wine.) And the toddler phase—well, everyday is an athletic feat of either wrangling her like a wild horse or leap-frogging the dog to get her before she does something dangerous.
Having a human baby was like one of those extreme home makeover shows. We were taking down walls at 2:00 am, thinking we’d never survive and then, the house was renovated, the staircase was in a different spot, the cement-floor garage became a warm, sage-green nursery.
The house would never be the same.
I know, I know, parenthood is not interesting, in the same way you would find a South America motorcycle trip interesting, but it’s the MOST interesting thing about me.
I’m watching a little human I created learn new words and concepts.
She somehow just understands that putting a paper bag over your head and slowly lifting it off is hilarious. She has a sense of humor. Already.
She grabs both of my hands sometimes and pulls me onto the dance floor, aka, that unused spot just in front of the TV. She understands that dancing is a right. Already.
YES, it is the most “interesting, exciting” thing I’ve personally experienced.
And (humble brag) I’ve been to Japan! I lived in Quebec! I once wrote a Fodor’s travel guide! I was published in the Delta Sky airline magazine! I say all of this in jest, knowing that none of it really matters, as in parents are not “better” than non-parents, people who travel are not “better” than people who don’t.
All of us just ARE.
But, for some reason moms are stereotyped as boring, uncool, spit-up covered people in high-waisted jeans who listen to terrible music.
The “Used-to Women”
The thing that terrified me most about parenthood is becoming a “used-to woman.” Otherwise known as a “before-I-had kids” woman. You know, the woman who when asked about herself looks down and replies, “well, I used to take pictures, before I had kids.” Or “Joe and I used to travel a bunch before I had kids.” Or “I used to love my dog, before I had kids.” (That last one is unacceptable).
Translation: I USED to be a person….
A random male colleague asked if I was still writing about 10 months after the baby. I couldn’t see my expression, but I believe my mouth twisted into a grimace/sneer and I raised my “would-you-ask-a-man-that” eyebrow (the right one).
Of course I STILL write. I STILL exist.
I’ve learned that while it’s difficult (for me) to work out three times a week anymore, it IS possible to meet with my writing group twice a month. I learned after dragging The Baby cross the country to Chicago on a SOLO flight that I will not be whisking baby to Paris for a girl’s week anytime soon. Brunch is a no-go as she turns into a gremlin just when the mimosas reach our table.
So yes, there are a lot of things I USED to do that I don’t (tennis! movies! camping!). But my house is just as fun as the trendy brunch place with the mango mimosas. The dance party hasn’t gone away, it relocated to my living room.
This is the untold story of motherhood, the one not seen in the dark circles under my eyes and my wistful gaze at the glass of wine sitting just beyond my reach, as I read her Brown Bear, Brown Bear for the 100th time. It’s the complete, ineffable, sudden JOY.
I hope to bring my writing to a new place. I hope you’re still along for the ride. I hope that this adventure is “interesting” to you, whatever that means.
It’s not WHAT you experience, it’s HOW you experience it.
(Full-disclosure: I lifted that last line from an exceptional FB post written by a stranger I can no longer find.)
(I refuse, at least for now, to post public pictures of The Baby on this blog. She’s entitled to her privacy, at least while she has food all over her face. So no baby pics!)
(Credit to LL for the title, just in case I’m supposed to do those kind of things)