Friday, October 22, 2010
We're not the first, I hope we're not the last...
(Special points to someone who recognizes the song this blog entry's title is from without Googling it.)
Someone recently told me, and not in a friendly way, that I act like I am the first person to ever experience motherhood. I suppose I do act that way. Yet I know that I am not. I know that there really is no thought that has not been previously thought, no song that has not been sung, no word that has not been spoken. People have been having babies forever. I am not original and I know this. But you know what? This is the first time it's happened to me. Every morning that I open my eyes, every thought I think, every time I kiss my daughter, every time I look at my husband who is my best friend and loves me more than anyone has ever loved me: these are always new things to me and I am the first and only person to experience them as I am. To me, this is a gift.
It's funny. We were away last week in a place that I'd spent a lot of time in a lifetime ago. Going back is always weird. I had lots of time to think about things I've felt and done and said in the past and how much my life has changed. I have made many mistakes in my life and there are many, many things I wish I had said or done differently, but I love my life all the same. Looking back on the past and rethinking people, places and things makes me feel a lot of emotions I can really live without, like embarrassment or worse, remorse. I had a lot of time this past week to think about one thing I wrote in particular in an earlier blog and how I have come to regret my big, decisive words about it, writing like I was an expert on parenting and the family tree just weeks after the birth of my daughter. Not only was I wrong, but I am sure I hurt someone's feelings in the process.
I can't apologize for getting a kick out of the experiences I'm having enough to want to write about them. Perhaps there is a selfish or snobbish piece of me that drives the writing, but I like to think of myself a pretty humble narrator. I can even laugh at myself now. When I started this blog I was more sleep deprived than I am now and what I mistook for wisdom was clearly just good intentions coupled with exhaustion and a new kind of love I'd never felt before. I had made all kinds of emphatic and permanent decisions by the time Thora was five weeks old: about everything from pacifiers to what I will do if she eats meat as a teenager to what I want her to be when she grows up. What can I say? I loved my kid and wanted the best for her. That has not changed. I still love her and want the best for her. But over the course of eight short months - this special little person's whole entire life - I have learned that life and love and intentions and even my opinions, strong as they are in the moment, are all fluid. I change my mind every day. I don't claim to know anything about parenting. I admit it: I don't know what the fuck I am doing. But I am having so much fun trying to figure it out.
About ten years ago I was literally a completely different person. One of my friends back then actually introduced me to people as "This is Aimee. She's really abrasive. Don't take it personally. That's just the way she is." At the time, I thought this was funny. Around the same time, another person labeled me "The Seeker of Truth And Justice." She called me this because of how emphatically I had to prove that I was right about things, how I could not bear to be misunderstood, and how I always had to have the last word with everything just to get my point across. Tenacious, she said, was another way of putting it. At the time I thought this too was a compliment, and I was happy to be understood by someone.
I won't go into How I Finally Grew Up At the Age of 30, but I will say that it took about five years for me to realize that these terms were not labels I should be proud of and then another five or so for me to figure out what to do about them. I slowed down a lot. I thought more, talked less. I observed rather than lectured. The growing was painful. And there were casualties along the way: a couple of good friendships, a boyfriend or two, many ridiculous outfits (including the world's tallest platform boots) that I never should have purchased let alone left the house in, a few stupid hairdos, a terrible CD or two by bands I'm too embarrassed to admit I danced to, all sacrificed. I say all this flippantly. I don't mean it flippantly, at least not about the friends. It was and is not easy to admit to myself that there are people out there who don't like me, or that perhaps I am not always the greatest judge of character or picker of good friends. And sometimes I am not the good friend I know I can and want to be. But it is what it is. And I find that I do better when I slow down and breathe and take things one day at a time instead of overthinking. Life is much less tense and much more enjoyable. You still get some stuff wrong, but you get more things right. Also, you get second chances when you are more relaxed and less judgmental. People are less inclined to hate you or find you abrasive. They forgive you more easily. You forgive yourself more easily too, which is good because screwing up is always inevitable. But you get to rediscover the important task of living your life instead of wasting it in a sea of impossible expectations and drowning in disappointment.
So you see, I don't really think I am the first person to experience motherhood. What I do think is that I am the last person I ever thought would experience motherhood. Much as I always wanted to be a mom, I really didn't believe it would ever happen to me. Every day I feel lucky that I am where I am and that I have the kid I have. This is where the passion for the blog comes from. I want to preserve every second! I want to write down my every last thought and impression, even if it means I feel the opposite with my whole heart and soul the very next day! It's how I feel right now. And looking back on my life before motherhood, a whole series of right nows, I think it can only make me more interesting, right? Especially to my kid. God help me when she is a teenager and wants to know what I was like in the olden days when I was her age. But you know I'll be blogging about that too, acting like I'm the first person who ever had a teenage daughter. Will you still be reading?
Posted by Teeny and the Bee at 12:59 AM