Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Becoming a Mother

Yesterday I read a beautiful, evocative piece about becoming a mother. And it touched my heart; in many ways it describes my experience. But it also doesn't - in fact, the main concept of the post has not been my experience at all. 
You see, the post is about how the women we were before giving birth are dead, irretrievably gone; how we will never get that person back. And how, while we are (in most cases) thrilled to become this new person, this mother, it is normal and natural and expected to mourn the loss of those individuals we used to be.
But I don't feel that way at all. I miss some things about not being a parent, sure. But they are trivial, minute; not even remotely close to the center of my being. They're things like sleeping uninterrupted all night long, or not dousing myself in milk whenever I try to go bra-less. Tiny, unimportant things. Not even on the scale when compared to the wonder of this tiny person that came out of love.
I imagine most women don't throw themselves wholeheartedly into this whole motherhood thing until they actually become mothers. That's logical. But me? I have been preparing for this baby my whole life. I was just figuring out how to be a whole person by myself when I met her father, and it was the easiest thing in the world to slip into motherhood. It's like I finally became myself when she was born. Like I hatched, or blossomed. It was something I had been anticipating with barely contained enthusiasm; my only fear was that I would never manage to achieve it.
I've written before about how people often used to tell me not to rush into this stage of my life. Clearly they were people who mourned the loss of their old selves, and I don't judge them for that. It's completely understandable; it's just not my experience.

Maybe I missed out on who I could have been; maybe I don't mourn my loss because I wasn't anyone worth mourning. But I don't think of it that way. I think of who I am now as exactly who I was before, plus something undefinable. So maybe, just maybe, the difference for me is that I have always been on this path and never had to take a fork in the road. I'm not missing out on anything because for me, any other path was unthinkable.
She calls it:
"a human, adult reaction to a giant shift in identity, a presence of mind recognizing the end of an entire chapter of life, a heart mourning the woman that once was, and a soul shaking under the weight of a new giant world."
And for me, it didn't feel like an entire chapter of life, but rather a preface, a prelude to truly becoming. Because in my heart, I was always here. It isn't a new world. It's a world that I've been staring at for years, from outside, delving in shallowly here and there with other people's children, waiting for the day that I could call it home.
And now that I can, no part of me is in mourning. Rather I am celebrating. Quietly, yes, internally. And maybe the day will come that I will mourn. After all, I'm only two weeks into motherhood. But for now, I'll just enjoy it.

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