By dontannoyme on "The truth is, the ten or twenty minutes I was somebody’s mother were black magic": Ariel Levy's "Thanksgiving in Mongolia"
@antilamentation I feel these comments are somewhat naïve. She'd just delivered a desperately premature baby and was offered a tampon - she and everyone in the hotel was not equipped to deal with this because this is an extraordinary experience. She was on the verge of death and had already lost a child, right there in the hotel room. Not sure what level of thought is appropriate in these circumstances - and no I don't think it should have been edited.
It's not "casual racism" to think "where the hell am I and who is looking after me and what will happen to me and will I die?" when you are suddenly facing your own death and the death of your baby and you are thousands of miles from any one who loves you or from anything familiar. How do you think the Syrian asylum seekers travelling across Europe to find refuge feel if they are forced to give birth and face a terrible loss in a foreign land where they don't know the language and don't understand the system and don't recognise the food and are a thousand miles away from home? Not "Oh gosh what a lovely place this is and how I hope to get to know it deeply so I can represent it fairly in all my future descriptions of this event".
I'm trying to figure out how I feel now that I'm somebody's mother (even after 4 months, it feels strange even writing that). Sometimes, I am utterly, totally transformed - the first time I held her, I literally could not see anything else, and I would lose hours(!) just watching her sleep when she was a newborn. When, 3 days after she was born, we had to take her back to the hospital (preemie with jaundice), I cried - just wept, all day long - while her tiny body was separated from me in her little isolette. No amount of rational thought could penetrate the fog of the hormones that were screaming at me for letting my baby be anywhere but on me.
But sometimes, and more when I've slept for a blissful 6 or 7 hours in a row, I just feel...like myself. Sometimes, I'm a little sad that I'm not fundamentally different - it's more that I've just been extended slightly; I'm in a new relationship, I've added a second love to my life. But in the same way marriage didn't make me into a new person, neither has motherhood. I'm pretty sure time will take care of that on its own.
I’m traveling too much. I’m not writing enough. I can’t figure out where I want to live. They were all luxurious worries, the kinds of things only childless people had time or energy to grind on.
This is obviously, patently untrue, so much so that it feels demeaning to even say so.
As my mother gets daily closer to the inevitable decline and death that awaits us all, I have stopped being so knee-jerkedly offended by this kind of thing for myself as an unchilded person and begun being more and more offended for her as a human person who has now, and never lacked, an essential human self. Selflessness, my christ. That is an insult that I (even I!) will never offer anyone. Mothers do hard work that is boring to many and are kept very physically busy and mentally occupied by it for a period of some years. They are not separate creatures outside the world of lowly human fellowship and they do not make a devil's bargain to stop striving and wanting and thinking with their selves in order that their children may one day do these things.
and you might say, this is about your friend and your own future, nothing to do with my lousy mother who I don't even like very well. But anything about Motherhood is about my mother. I suppose I am feeling the defensiveness towards her that women are only allowed by society and convention to feel for their children, isn't that funny? But this is the worst kind of attack because I don't think it even understands itself to be one.
@hallelujah I also think it's a class thing, too, right? Like. . . I don't know if I'm saying this right, but so many of my friends where I come from had kids very young, and it wasn't a mythical transformation at all, there wasn't some big chasm between us. They didn't see it that way, and I didn't either. It was just life, right? I've done a lot of childcare, I've had friends with kids move in with me after break-ups or after job losses, and it was all just life. This kind of myth-making really seems the province of people for whom every (let's be real: fairly conventional) decision is exalted. (This could just be the chip on my shoulder, as a non-picket-fencer! I admit this!) And I'm not denying that life changes after you have a child - your responsibilities & priorities shift - but you are still who you are, kid or no kid. My friends are still who they are, who they were.
Oh yeah and the crying thing is hormones, not brain restructuring. It lasts a week or maybe 2.
The most significant post-baby transformation I experienced was a number of my friends turning into awkward weirdoes because I had a kid. But that was about it. Oh, and being tired for several months on end, which, yeah, could probably be mistaken for softness or emotional vulnerability from the outside. But now that that's going away (and the weirdo friends have either gotten used to my utterly boring decision to have a child or moved on), I'm still me. It's really not all that exciting.
Hrm. So, becoming a parent is obviously a monumental change for most, especially in terms of priorities and responsibilities (except for the massively wealthy, I suppose.) But the idea that women must be inherently TRANSFORMED by motherhood always struck me as an insidious little patriarchal notion that seeks to inform us that we, on a basic level, are vessels first and humans second. I hope your relationship to your child is what you want it to be, but if you come out of it the same person you were before, that's ok too.
By LordHennyson on Susan Faludi on Facebook Feminism & the Danger of "Individual Women Empowering Themselves by Deserting Other Women"
@TheBelleWitch The first time I heard the phrase "lean in" was Liz Lemon on going to an ex's wedding alone: "Maybe I'll just lean into it and bring a cat and a baby stroller" and that's the only way I've used it ever since.
I'll send her a picture of my degrees and my paycheque and my bookclub and my fucking liberation.