When Stan left Dorothy after 38 years of marriage, she was devastated. Life threw her an enormous curveball and she had no idea what to do. What she didn’t know at the time was that, for many reasons, Stan’s super sh*tty departure did her an enormous service. She had the opportunity to rebuild her life on her own terms, bigger and better and free of all the things she’s attached to the idea of what it means to be a woman in her 50s. When Stan returns [to settle some property they miraculously had the money to buy when they were first married - at f*cking 18, no less!] and he wants to reunite, Dorothy explains to him that she really likes her new life.
I can kind of relate to that.
I am absolutely shocked to say that I am feeling more like myself than I have in years.
Since my second baby was born I’ve had this surge of creative energy and enthusiasm that I haven’t felt in at least a decade (but let’s face it, way longer than that.) It’s funny because before I had kids I always had this preconceived idea about that it meant to be a Mom; the way Moms acted, looked, their topics of conversation, the way they spent their time and how their kids, essentially, became their world. I resisted for a long time that inevitable vortex I believed all moms got sucked into, with no way out.*
However, I “knew” that if I eventually I wanted kids that’s how it would go down, and I’d have to accept it. I’d basically cease to exist as an individual, become someone who would eat, sleep and breathe nothing but kids along with all the other Moms. My topics of conversation would solely relate to diapers, bottles, breastfeeding, crawling, school plays, soccer, singing lessons, etc. Essentially, I’d never have adult or personal interests or conversations again. F*ck, I thought. Despite the fact I knew in my core I wanted to be a Mom and it was a very deliberate and planned decision, I still felt this impending end to my identity.
NOT THE VORTEX! I’d tell myself, feeling like a tidal wave was coming right at me as I was pressed up against a cement wall with nowhere to go. OH GOD IT’S COMING! IT’S COMING!! I would get washed away into motherhood, never to be seen again. I squeezed my eyes shut and waited for the wave to hit post-partum.
So I gave birth.
…and squinted open one eye.
Ok, it hasn’t hit yet, but I think I can still see it coming. I know it’s going to happen. I’m on to you, motherhood! You can’t surprise me! I will not be surprised!
Oh, Hillary. Bless your heart and aversion to surprises.
Fast forward to today. The wave must have gotten lost somewhere at sea.
I love the crap out of my kids. Seriously, it’s f*cking gross. Insane, even. I would sprint toward my greatest fears and the greatest dangers that have ever existed without hesitation whatsoever if they needed me.
But it turns out that you can love those little people that much and still be you. You only get sucked into the vortex if you want to be there. If you don’t, you can keep being you while maintaining all your interests and personality. WHAT A CONCEPT!
This has been unbelievably refreshing to experience and yet because of how I’ve been programmed to think of the role of a Mom, I’m also still learning how to fuse the two parts of me and see what that means. Everything from getting tattoos to dying my hair, working in a creative field, embracing being happy and doing what I want, calling my kid out when he’s acting like an a**hole and everything that makes me me. I won’t lie, though; it sometimes feels like it doesn’t fit with what’s expected by society for a Mom. I guess that’s some re-programming I’ll have to keep working on because there is no one size fits all when it comes to people in general, let alone motherhood. It has been very eye-opening for me to realize that there are many ways to be a Mom. I can take control of my life and do what I want.
Life threw me a curveball when I didn’t get sucked into the vortex.
In friendship and cheesecake,
*TO CLARIFY I do not judge Moms who do make their children their everything. I think life is entirely too short to do what you think you’re supposed to do, or to not do what makes you truly happy. Seriously, if eating, sleeping and breathing your kids is what gives you more joy than anything else could, do that. Kids always benefit when their parents are happiest.
And in some cases, like special needs or illness, there’s not much room for parents to opt for anything other than eating, sleeping and breathing their kids. For those parents who don’t get the choice, I see you. And you’re freaking awesome.