Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Missing the Miracle

I'm having one of those mornings.

That sentence is the precursor to this post. Just a warning.

I had a child four years ago, and I fought my way through a crappy postpartum depression to write about it. I'm happy I did, but I remember supportive words from people in the middle of it. Well, they were words they thought they were being supportive with, but really, they just made my body run cold. Now when I hear the same kinds of sentences, my body doesn't react, but my eyes squint together and my lips purse.

There is no doubt in my mind that X-man is totally my favorite person in the whole world. I love him in a way that I haven't loved anyone else. And when he decides on his own to tell me he loves me, I am floored that someone so fabulous could even consider me worthy of such affection. In other words, I love being his mom, even if the frustrating days and the awesome days are sometimes completely out of whack.

On the other hand, I am neither awed or wowed by reproduction. I don't think of being a mother as a some kind of banner of courage or awesomeness. I reproduced. It's part of the whole process of life. I don't feel like there's some heaven with a bunch of baby souls looking down picking parents. I don't think I'm better than other women who cannot or chose not to reproduce. I made a choice with my partner to have a child. We had sex. Upon fertilization a 3-year hormonal mess lived inside my body and then continued to wreak havoc after the birth. I champion surviving that much more than I champion my 24-hour labor and delivery. I champion getting a 4-year old who LOVES his friends, sometimes more than they want to be loved, and also strives to be independent while also being able to ask for help.

So when people say, "You carried a baby and gave birth to another human being!" and label me as some kind of warrior. I get confused. We aren't a small group of people. This isn't some great accomplishment. In fact, having a baby is a pretty mediocre achievement, unless you are one of the few who are able to beat fertility barriers (which is insanely awesome in your case!).

To have a child is to choose the giant likelihood that you will have no sleep; never be able to take a sick day again that's actually for yourself; have less money than you'd like; worry about money more than you'd like; enjoy going to places with other children who are running and screaming because you know other people's children will be having the same tantrums as your own and feel safe there; acknowledging your sagging breasts, stretchmarks, giant C-section scars, weight gain, weight loss, ugly hair, food on all your shirts, the unbeatable pile of laundry and the messy house... it all comes with the territory. You had a kid. (But I'm totally cool with the idea if you decide you want a cleaning service, lawn service, plastic surgery, babysitter, financial planner or if you feel an undying need to play the lotto... go for it. Seriously.)

Trying to turn that whole motherhood thing into some kind of giant girl club of miracles is insane. The "aren't I cool because I gave birth to another human being?" complex, at its core, seems like a giant poster of insecurity to me, but others see it as having an overwhelming sense of pride of their biological accomplishments. I don't understand that idea.

Mostly, I don't understand it when it becomes clear that being a Mommy (and what they hope is a good one) is their entire identity as a woman.

"X-man's Mommy" is one contributing identity to who I am right now. But it is not the identity I put all of my eggs into. It is not the only one that matters. It is part of the whole, but is not my everything.

I am still a strong supporter of the idea that parents and children make their way in the world the best they can. However a family needs to operate to do so effectively, and to the well being of everyone, is in the best interest of that family -- and arguing which parenting techniques or choices one makes is better than the other is insane to me, but so is forgetting how motherhood enriches who you are rather than allowing your identity of Mommy to be all you and the world knows about you.

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