Mamas and Wine

Back when Ellie was an infant, I remember wondering to myself (sometimes desperately), when and if I would ever feel like “myself” again. To be straight with you, I’m not even certain what I mean when I say “feel like myself,” but I think what I was looking for was to rediscover the me that exists once I’m outside of a position of responsibility and obligation. (And if you’ve had a child, you very well know what I’m talking about.)

Once I had a child, I found myself in a perpetual state of responsibility and obligation, which is quite a “culture” shock (if you can call it that) to a woman who was used to doing basically whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted, and never having to answer to another soul for anything. So yes, I can remember times when I was nursing Ellie at half past three in the morning, with tears streaming down my face, wondering “when will I get more than two hours of sleep in a row?” “I love this so much. Why is it so hard?” and “will I ever just be me again?”

No. No, I’ll never “just be me again.” Since Ellie was born, and until the day I die, I’ll be me+. That’s just the way it is. And I wouldn’t have it any other way (no matter how hard it was in the beginning).

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Some of my mama crew, plus some friends!

Today, several of the other mamas in my moms’ group, and a couple of their friends and I got together and took an RV (Thanks B!) down to the Santa Maria Valley to go wine tasting, and we had such and excellent time. We left our kiddos with their papas, and actually got to hang out. I laughed way too loudly sometimes, and I got to hear SO many great stories. The lives these women have lived! It felt so good to just be, without feeling pulled in twelve different directions. To just talk and enjoy each other’s company. How refreshing!

That is what I was missing, back in the lonely nursing hours. And while I’ll never “just be me” again, I couldn’t be happier to be me+ alongside all these amazing women. Motherhood has been the greatest blessing of my life thus far; I thank God every day for my little Ellie Bean, and for the bonds that are being created between me and the rest of the mamas in my group. This is such a special and unique time of our lives, and I’m so grateful to have their love and support while we all begin to figure out what it means to go from “just being me” to being “me+.”

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I Am Not a Mom-A-Tron

Something that’s become particularly clear to me this past week, is how easy it is to fall into the maternal trap of trading one’s individuality– that is, the very qualities that make one unique– for the quest of becoming the very best mother one can be. I advised a friend via email recently to give no consequence to his feeling “too old” to attend certain concerts, because “some of us are, by circumstance, made too old to attend” I knew, even then, that I was projecting my sense of loss onto him. (But I still find mine to be sound advice.)

But then I considered: what good does it do Elliott to have a mother who divorces herself from herself? Or for Mike to watch me slowly shape-shift into a single-minded Mom-A-Tron? (He did, after all, marry me, not Mom-A-Tron. Although the more I say it, the more awesome Mom-A-Tron sounds. Like a badass mommy-robot.)

My realization isn’t anything novel or groundbreaking, I’m sure, but here it is: Elliott and I were matched together as mother and daughter (and to Mike as father and daughter), because we are the individuals that we are, and because of the unique inclinations of Elliott’s heart that neither Mike nor myself are even privy to yet. I have to believe that my likes and desires are shaping me uniquely as Elliott’s mother, and that the relationship that Elliott and I are cultivating will be enhanced by those details.

The Happiest Baby

Gratuitous photo of The Bean. Sigh. Feel that? That's your heart swelling full of happiness.

I want Elliott to love me as her mother, but I also want her to know me as an individual that exists in roles in addition to my primary role as her mother. And rather than knowing Elliott singularly as my daughter, I look forward to knowing her as a person, gaining insight into her character, and watching her grow into the many roles that she will play.

I guess that’s all to say that it will not irreparably tarnish my relationship with my daughter if she watches her mother go to a Metric concert with her friends, continues indulging her fascination with haute shades of nail polish, or falls further into the vintage rabbit-hole, sartorially.

And, as usual, I’m not really sure about any of what I just said. But it feels right. As Walter Sobchak asks, “Am I wrong?”

(Polish en ce moment: Essie’s Mint Candy Apple)

Essie's Mint Candy Apple

One Thing I Never Prepared For

The time is 11:20 PM, Mike is sound asleep in our bedroom, The Bean is (noisily) asleep in her bassinet in the living room, and here I am, on the couch across from her, plunking away at my computer. I know, I know, “sleep when the baby sleeps.” I’ve got a cold and I’m exhausted, so I should be sleeping like a baby (ha!), but I have a hard time sleeping when something’s bothering me. Prepare yourself, because we’re delving deep fast: Why is it that during the happiest time of my life I sometimes feel so, I don’t know, empty?

For starters, and I know we’re (i.e. new moms) not supposed to say this in “public,” but I’m lonely. Example: I had the television on because the sound was keeping me company, but the light would cause Ellie to stir, so I turned it off. I’m embarrassed just typing that. It makes sense though: I spend every moment I’m awake with a 7 week old infant, and I have very little interaction with people my age, or people capable of carrying on a conversation for that matter. I would not trade a second of my precious time with Elliott, but the matter remains; I feel like part of me is shriveling up as a result of lack of use. Couple that with the guilt I have for feeling the way I do, and you’ve got yourself the ingredients for a late-night confession in blog format.

I miss my friends, and I miss my coworkers but most of all I miss my husband. (There’s a sad kind of irony that he’s sleeping soundly one room over, and here I am feeling like I’m slowly being emptied out.) Let me save you the time of telling me what I already know: I know it won’t always be this way, and I know some of my sadness could likely be attributed to all of the recent hormonal changes, and I know that my life is actually perfectly wonderful and I’ll look back on this time later in life with warmth and nostalgia, and I know that comparatively my life is a cake-walk. I’m so blessed to have such a perfect little daughter, and a wonderful, loving husband, and the ability to stay home and care for our adorable tiny treasure. I know that, and I believe that, but man, I miss myself you know? And how I used to be fun and creative and social.

Maybe this is the time where I’m supposed to reflect on the woman I was before the pregnancy and birth, and look forward to the woman I’m becoming? I already know that this experience is changing me for the better, and I look forward to growing into a new, more refined version of myself that I see on the horizon. I guess I just wish I wasn’t so alone in the process.

I’m sure my sentiment in this matter is not unique; this is probably something many new moms go through, but I was not prepared for this. Breastfeeding, diapering, swaddling, I over-prepared for everything. But loneliness? This is an entirely new arena for me.

I’ll attend another moms’ group tomorrow (I already belong to one) with the hope of meeting some new moms and maybe talking about something other than the adorable smile Ellie makes before she toots. (You haven’t lived until you’ve seen it– it’s magic.) And hopefully, albeit slowly, I’ll replace whatever it is I’m losing with all of the wonderful things I’m gaining.

And as always, if you’ve got practical advice, I welcome it.


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