Hi there. Below is my very fist blog post which contains rambles and quite unacademic (but fully lived) reflections on becoming a mother, fresh of the hospital. I wrote this about 9 years ago…
I have to admit that mothering, the big M, transformed me in the most fundamental ways, not ever imaginable. It propelled me to learn so much about the world and myself. The big M was the biggest slap life could throw at me at the time, while I was staring at it in mixture of disbelief and horror, flabbergasted…
As I result, I wanted to get to know the ins and outs of it. So for the first 6 years of motherhood, I embarked on an intellectual excavation. Hence,a Masters of Research in Psychology, which ended with a thesis on “Maternal expectations vs reality of motherhood”. Here it is, published.
It got me the highest mark in the department at Manchester Uni for the last 10 years. It also got me craving more knowledge. Something in my understanding was still quite limited (still is!). I had to go for the Unspeakables (some publications from it here and here, oh and some here, and all those things we hush and shush but know that are there, the social constructs around mothering, that have a deep and cryptic influence on how we experience ourselves not only as mothers, but as women as well.
Moved to Australia on a super generous scholarship and I got a PhD in Maternal Mental Health. My doctoral thesis aimed to unpack those unexposed and frequently never questioned believes on what constitutes a GOOD mother, hence my work on Bad Mothers. Oh, my Goddess, did I love this work! It took me on a completely new journey into critical health which provided not only a solid theoretical position for my work, but also helped me develop new ways of understanding the world and my own place and agency as a big M representative.
And this post contains those early thoughts that are centred only around Me, Myself and My own issues and never look outside for some resolution or understanding, or even compassion. And this is what I have found most problematic about the big M, we always look inwards to understand our struggles, while there is plenty of external factors that explain them.
So here it is,my beginning (I have edited a word from the original post):
My list-making mania caught me off-guard on one of those ass-freezing, heart-warming walks that WE, the girls, take once in a blue moon. You know that part of “the being-a-mother gig” excludes all random friendships and leaves you stuck with the ones that are always there…namely my most precious girlfriend, our bulldog Buddah. She always answers my calls, never leaves me waiting, and lavishes me with love, respect, and slobber…and all this ONLY when I need it.
Don’t you just wish all friends were like this sometimes? Just there for you…patiently listening and offering you a warm drool! Enough with the canine sentiments. Let me enlighten you with a randomly selected maternity inspired and sanity saving tips on how I am dealing with this mental disorder, called parenthood.
Motherhood did not just happen to me. I know you are all thinking isn’t that the most natural instinct-driven thing a woman can experience?!
Hm, well…NO! Not for me at least. And I know some of you have been there, others are in such a huge denial that they don’t even get it. Well, this blog is for the first ones. The other ones will live happily ever after and will go to heaven, and I will never get to meet them since I already have a well deserved spot in hell, right?
Back to motherhood. It was a hard hard HARD work. Beyond all my sources, beyond myself. Now…again, I have a theory that involves a super inflated Ego, huge amounts of selfishness, laziness, and status quo-loving, but I will not even go there.
Becoming a mother changed my core, along with so many other things, such as my relationships with my husband, my parents, my friends, and even my foes. It changed it all. And I am both happy and sad for this. I do mourn my carefree days every so often, especially when I catch myself jealously observing my kid-free mentally unimpaired friends. It is almost painful. However, I have become to realize that I should just accept these feelings. Oh, the relief! It is indescribable.
For those of you out there, secretly envying freedom, DON’T. Not secretly. Envy is OK. All feelings are actually OK. They are given to you so that you can freely and fully experience them. They are only enriching. So go ahead, and hate a little. About the other side of motherhood, that is to say, all the mind-blowing love, I shall not speak…since it CAN only be lived, and not spoken about.
MY way of dealing with the volcano of sweltering new emotions includes the following self made strategies:
1. Take a walk, away from B a b y, preferably alone. Just look around and try to see everything in a new fresh way. Now you will probably feel guilty, resentful and a little ashamed that you are outside, not taking advantage of having the B a b y (or the one we won’t speak of) out with you. It is such a beautiful day, weather is awesome, you are thinking how B would have enjoyed and benefited from this walk too. Stop right there and be a little selfish, just as you used to be before the big B highjacked both your heart and your time. And remember that in order to raise a happy camper you need to give him/her that personal example. So look for resources to make yourself happy, constantly!
2. Wear sexy underwear! Just try it once and you will not regret it. Especially after you had spent months turning into a huge whale during pregnancy (yep, I was one of the 50-pounder-haeavier- OMG-you-are-so-big-are-you-having-twins? Prego), beautifully followed by the breastfeeding bras, with the highly erotic hole in front and let’s not purposefully omit the granny panties several sizes bigger, that Stoyan and I were planning to save for our next camping trip, and literally use as a shelter.
After the brave decision to stop using my body as the only source of nourishment for the little voracious beast, I got rid of ALL the pregnancy and post-pregnancy clothing, to the last piece. It was liberating. I was claiming my body back and I was celebrating it with a nice Victoria’s secret set!
3. Discard all those “how to mercilessly kill your husband without hiding all the blood” thoughts (leaving a few for the bedroom only and in its metaphorical sense, I guess). Husbands nowadays CAN actually be of help. Not the best help, but definitely the best you and your progeny will ever get. So, USE THE HUSBAND! For the purpose you will need earplugs, not only for when they accidentally drop the baby on the floor, neither for when they make the baby listen to hardcore, while forgetting to feed the baby, ‘cos you know, it’s their favorite part of the song right now?! Earplugs will help block all the whining and bitching, particularly when You want to have a moment and go for a morning walk WITHOUT the B A B Y!? You can do it!
Other useful aspects of husbands may include the following:
– Foot massage
– Dinner (and breakfast, and lunch, if you lucked out)
– Silly jokes (if you really lucked out)
– Minor home fixes and renovations. I said MINOR. Because if you decide to go for the big stuff, such as drywall building, or bathroom remodeling, you might as well consult with the divorce lawyer ahead of time and save yourselves a bunch of money. Why remodel a house that you will have to sell after the divorce?! If you do survive a major home remodeling together though, with no major relationship clashes, kudos to you! You are up for that already mentioned spot in heaven…must be nice!
– A grown-up conversation. Do not underestimate the powerful effect of Not using baby language once in a while!
– A wine-drinking buddy. This is a reason itself to keep a husband!
4. Have sex! Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat? Don’t even know why I wrote this. All I know is that I hear it helps! I hear weird and interesting stuff about that sex thing. They say it is so good for you, it adds extra years to your life, it sheds extra pounds, it makes your heart stronger, as well as your relationships. They also say it is a great indicator for mental health. You got me there! So THAT is the reason!
OK, now here is where I will have to use all of your tips and advices on the topic. I am not saying that Sami is a product of the innocent conception…not even close…Sexually active MOMS hit the jackpot…A deep bow, followed by a standing ovation (not too prolonged though, cos you know, I have a toddler running around). All I can say is that I am happy if I get to the active part…the sexually active one will have to hold off. Respect, biotches!
5. Hire help and go on a date! You can’t even begin to imagine the enormous gigantic difference there is in the way things happen, when you are actually able to leave the house for a few hours. So far, for the 14 glorious months that we have been parents, we have left the house to a babysitter, only after Sami is asleep. My freaky controlling mind does not allow me to leave him with anyone other than me or Stoyan, that is in his non-sleeping state (which is 10 hours daily…we lucked out majorly on the fact that Sami sleeps form 7pm till 9 am). And I know this is wrong, but I promise to reconsider it in the coming year, or two…or 10. Yet, going out never meant so much for us. We did take for granted so many things in our pre-baby life, including this one. Now, every quiet dinner in a nice restaurant is like a gift from god! Long gone are the tears and the anxiety that I used to experience every time we left the nothing-suspecting sleeping baby. These precious specks of time we devote to us, I believe, are not only marriage savors, but also sanity keepers.
6. Your parents, yes. You must have heard the famous aphorism “Who needs Freud when you have shopping therapy”. I have a LOT to say here, but I will try to be as succinct as possible. I will try to bite my knuckles and will gently and quietly explain, with all the poise I have, that it is simply not true. Not only because I am one of those who earn their money from mentally challenged and suffering individuals. I have been there, girls. Shopping is overrated – this is my hard reached and long anticipated answer. It not only leaves your budget ravaged, but it leaves you satisfied for a mere tiny bit of time. After that you begin to wonder: when exactly will you be able to wear those stilettos (not advisable for the playground, tried and failed shamefully) and let’s not even begin the endless discussion of the tons and tons of drool (gotta wait for them 20 teeth), baby food and occasional blood stains (yes, walking costs children blood loss, as well as mommy’s hair turning white)…then it’s the pet hair and the unexpected piece of biscuits, peas and dirt all over your brand new outfit. A beautiful amalgam beautifully spread on your latest beautiful dress! After so much beauty, you are just better off with your old comfortable jammies.
And do refer to Freud. This arrogant Jew rules my world! I am not saying you should dig into the grueling and copious volumes he gave life to. A simple “Psychopathology of everyday life” works miracles. Don’t be intimidated by the title, it’s just there to impress you. After getting familiarized with this theory, all you can do is BLAME it ALL on your parents! Oh, it is so good! You have been fucked up, conditioned, smacked hard, built up, modified, brainwashed, love pumped, toned up, toughened up, shaped into who you are only by THEM. You are a byproduct of their fears, talents, desires, dreams, complexes, but most of all their LOVE. Leave the responsibility to others, just for a second. Let go off all judgments and forgive them, accept the fact that they did the best they could, call them and tell them how much you love them! Right this moment, because tomorrow might be late. It’s a simple act which brings an astronomic relief and satisfaction to both them and you. Now you are a parent too. Now you know. NOW. YOU. KNOW.
to be continued…