I’m not daft to the inescapable reality that my life has been altered. My alarm clock is now a pair of small albeit remarkably healthy lungs and my idea of a vacation is an uninterrupted shower. Instead of holding a triple shot venti and half a pack of cigarettes when walking out the door, I’m carrying an oversized purse full of diapers and a carseat that bangs against my left thigh every time I take a labored step. My Friday nights revolve around a tiny man who sucks on my nipples, drinks himself to sleep and throws up occasionally and while that sounds a lot like my college evenings, that tiny man isn’t 25 and emotionally unavailable.
Sure, things are different. However, that instantaneous, fundamental change everyone told me I’d experience the moment I became, gulp, a mom? Yeah, I’m still waiting.
My world hasn’t cataclysmically shifted, leaving the pathetically broken pieces of my personal, professional and sometimes whimsical goals behind. My writing career is still my first child and my novel is still a labor of love and the unrealistic intention of spending an entire summer naked on a beach in Greece is still, well, an unrealistic intention. My son’s now overwhelming importance hasn’t negated the other important aspects of my life. He is my focus, but he is not my only focus.
My vocabulary hasn’t been restricted for fear his impressionable brain may be tarnished. My “fucks” haven’t turned into “fricks” and my “shits” haven’t turned into “shoots”. He’ll undoubtedly be familiar with a wide variety of curse words at what many will consider an inappropriate age. He’ll also know they aren’t meant for his mouth to repeat. The world won’t censor itself for him so he’ll be taught right from wrong, not that wrong doesn’t exist.
My musical preference hasn’t gave way to classical or choral in the hopes my child will become a remarkable prodigy of cancer-curing proportions. I mean, come on. He shits himself multiple times a day. Who are we kidding? He falls asleep to heavy riffs and epic breakdowns and if that means he might have to try a little harder in 10th grade geometry class, well, I have no doubt he will try harder.
And while many will assume I am a selfish mother incapable of self-sacrificing for the sake of my child, I won’t care. Because the instantaneous, fundamental change everyone told me I’d experience the moment I became a mom wasn’t a forewarning of sacrifice. It was an assumption of loss.
So many expect you to lose parts of yourself in order to gain others. So many believe the sacrifices a mother makes is synonymous with a gratuitous lobotomy. So many regard a “good mother” as an unfulfilled entity, void of those pesky human characteristics like desire and need. If you continue to, oh, I dunno, pursue your career or care about football or drink neat, three finger whiskies, you’ll face unapologetic assumptions of abandonment and selfishness.
Sadly, mothers are encouraged, nay expected, to cast aside their former personalities in exchange for diaper bags and spit up cloths.
Which makes my previously debilitating fear of children all the more understandable. I was intensely adamant my future would be a childless one, however I now realize it wasn’t my son I didn’t want, it was this preconceived notion of parenthood shoved down every 20-something’s throat. This inescapable nomenclature of “mom” that convinced me I would lose the parts of myself I loved in order to love what will now always be the best part of myself. I was afraid of becoming a robotic caregiver, subjected to an instantaneous, fundamental change that would rob me of any identity other than “mother”.
Thankfully, I’m still waiting.
Because my life has been inescapably altered. But I haven’t. I have grown, not regressed. I have added, not subtracted. And I have learned, in the short month of exploring this new part of myself labeled “mom”, that the best kind of mother…
…is the mother who is true to herself.