Saturday, September 22, 2007

Becoming Mommy

I am just read this post over at Dooce and it really struck a chord with me. Our situations are on the surface quite different, not least because Ella is and has been, in fact, an extraordinarily easy kid (once we exclude those first horrible months when no one in our house, or any of the adjacent apartments, was sleeping). That probably doesn't change the basic issue though. If only the birth were the hardest part of becoming a mother.

In a way, I was lucky to have had such a miserable pregnancy because I think those first months would have been impossible if you had heaped depression on top of the sleep exhaustion. That fact that my hormones were crazy beforehand and straightened out after the birth was really a godsend. I felt a million times better, both mentally and physically, than I had in months so I felt ready for anything the baby could throw at me. But the transition to thinking of myself as "Mother" required some serious mental gymnastics. Like Dooce said, you do get to the point where you can reconcile the person and mother you are with the idea you have in your head of what motherhood is, but it isn't easy. That idea is always an ideal. Its impossible to be the mother that you thought you would be, if only that all your ideas have to be adapted to the actual child that you got and all his/her personality quirks. Its hard and I think that you have to have or develope a huge amount of self-confidence to just trust yourself.

And I think that I have accepted the idea that I am not one of these really hands on mom's, getting down on my knees and playing blocks for hours, because I very quickly decided that being a mom was a job just like any other. That means that some people are suited to the job and others are not. I think I've talked about this before on my blog- I can cook, but I'm not a chef. I can drive, but I am not a Formula 1 driver. I don't feel bad about any of that, so why feel bad about the fact that some of my mommy friends are better at the mommy gig? Everyone is good at something, and rare is the person that can do it all perfectly.

Which is why B and I are so bummed that we cannot find a babysitter for Ella for October when we were planning to go on vacation. Like Dooce, we have realized that Ella does not enjoy travelling with us and staying in hotels and being dragged from taxi to plane to train and then into a restaurant to sit still for an hour (or two), etc. So while we briefly tossed around the idea of foregoing a long-haul flight and instead maybe going somewhere like Sardinia for two weeks with Ella, we decided that rather than subjecting all three of us to the torture of that, we'll put off holiday til November. Ella will go to the country to stay with B's parents while we enjoy some alone time. Its not selfish, its actually far more generous to allow Ella a nice structured holiday in the country where she can have her same schedule, naps, and meals while being spoiled by her grandparents while we do our thing on our own.

So now its time to decide where we want to go- a more difficult task than you might think. Originally we were going to Hong Kong to visit friends and then on to somewhere like the beach in the Phillipines. But I couldn't find well-priced tickets. So then I decided that maybe we should go to Rio since I found a great deal on tickets. Except B can't imagine what we would do in Brazil for two weeks. He saw a cheap flight to San Jose, Costa Rica and read about a gorgeous eco-hotel on the edge of the jungle on the beach. He has got that idea stuck in his head, while I am not thrilled about another beach holiday, since we already did that in the spring. The problem is that he loves just laying on the beach and doing a few "nature activities", ie hiking and boating. I like to spend atleast a few days doing museums or strolling through cities or just more touristy things- I like to go and see something. But it makes sense, he wants to relax on holiday to decompress from work. I am always sitting around so I want to run around and do things. Generally, we can sort it out but the planning stages are difficult.


afoos said...

Thanks for the post and the link to Dooce's post!

Like you, I had and still do have a hard time with my mother identity. There is so much pressure out there for mothers to have that as their identity 100 percent of the time and to make it their priority. I think for anyone to admit that it's not a bed of roses all the time deserves a gold star because unfortunately society puts pressure on us to enjoy the job all the time. I absolutely love my children but I don't like all the work that goes behind it and it seems that our society kind of looks badly upon us for admitting that. Check out

You might like some of her attitudes too towards mothering.

Nicole said...

Actually, I read her every day! My favs were her posts about the Martini Moms- another subject that I never realized was so controversial. When we have playdates over lunch (more so when Ella was non-mobile and it was a bit more relaxing) I would never think twice about ordering a bottle of wine for the table. The idea that this would be endangering the life of my child was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard. I think that children have to fit into your lifestyle, you don't create an entire new life that revolves around your child. Its a real balancing act.

afoos said...

Couldn't agree with you more- finally, someone who shares the same opinions as me!