Friday, January 14, 2011

Life After Self-Inflicted "Mama Death"

One of those topics not often talked about is when women have a negative, initial reaction to pregnancy. I always thought mine would be flowers and unicorns and rainbows. However, my initial reaction actually was: "Holy shit. My life is over." I thought that was it; my life as I knew it was done. I would never have fun again, I would never finish my education; I was stuck – in this town, in this relationship, in life.
                Of course, I was very, very wrong. But women don’t often talk about those reactions. People would ask me “Are you excited?” and I wanted to say “Actually, I’m scared shitless and kind of depressed.” Not every mother is immediately in love with her child from the moment of conception – or even the moment of birth – but it is something that grows. There was so much I had to work on. It took a large dose of perspective and a dash of “growing up” on my part to realize that no, my life was not in any way over.
                The problem was the image I got from society of what a mother is “supposed” to be. That “good” mothers were ones who stayed at home with their children and made their children the sole focus of their lives – the ultimate self-sacrificing mama – who gave up her sexuality as a woman, gave up her hobbies and interests, stopped pursuing her goals, and gave her life over to her children. I’m not saying that this is a horrible decision but one that would have driven me crazy, making me very unhappy. And an unhappy woman equals a less effective mama.
                Also, I never want Droidlet thinking that the world revolves around him. I want him to learn compassion and that he is a part of a global society and that begins with how he is treated in the home. He is not my prince to be doted, he is not the king of our roost, and he will not dictate our lives. (And please recognize, I am not saying that this is what all mothers who stay at home do). He will have a voice, we will respect him, listen to him, foster learning and growing, and give him so so so much lovin’. He is my son, I love him with a fierce, unexplainable love, but he is not the sun to my mama earth.
                These revolutions are part of what contributes to tensions while growing up. I never understood parents making their children feel guilty for everything they “gave up” during their upbringing. Yes, there are things I’m going to sacrifice for Droidlet – I can’t just pick up and drive to the East Bay to visit my friends on a moment’s notice (or maybe I could! Just bring him along!), I can’t randomly sneak off to a movie on a whim, when I’m exhausted I can’t just put Droidlet down and walk away. But these are all little, unimportant things.  As Funk’s sister said “You are not entering Droidlet’s life, he is entering yours. He will adapt.”
                Now, I’m not saying this means I’m going to go out, get drunk with friends, and then come home and try to take care of Droidlet. I’m not talking about irresponsibility. I take my responsibility as Droidlet’s mama very seriously. But is it irresponsible for me (if I have the funds and it no way affects Droidlet’s survival) to get a half-sleeve tattoo? Nope. Is it irresponsible for me to finish my education? Hell no. Is it irresponsible of me to don high heels and pin-up hair to have a few ciders and play a Pub Quiz while Droidlet is home, safe with Funk? No way.
                The best gift I can give Droidlet is to show him that no matter what turns life took, including the beautiful surprise that is him, I adapted and finished my goals, stayed true to aspects of life that were important to me. And along the way, I got the awesome privilege to be his mama.


  1. This was a particularly moving post for me, because all the things you mentioned being uneasy about during your pregnancy are the very same things that make me absolutely terrified at the thought of becoming a mother. A lot of the people around me today treats the young children of the family as if they are the center of the universe and it always bothered me. I completely agree with you that children should not be brought up that way. They'll be in for a rude awakening someday when they realize the world does not, in fact, revolve around them after all.

  2. Thank you. And I agree with you. There seems to be a general doting upon of children. And I'm not saying don't love, or cuddle, or kiss, or play with, or support the educational and emotional growth of your child, but just to not make everything about everyday about them. Doing this makes so many moms both miserable and resentful. However, don't let that aspect scare you too much. YOU get to choose what kind of mama you are going to be. That's one great part of being a mama - you get to figure out what works for you and your child and run with it.