I have incredible parents. People say that a lot but the truth is, I really really do. I am lucky to have grown up in a two parent home and today, as a 30 year old, I live ten miles away from my mom and dad and the house I grew up in. We have had our problems-boy have we ever-but at the end of the day, my parents mean everything to me. Becoming a parent in the presence of my own parents, therefore, has been a profound experience. I remember being wheeled down the hall immediately after delivering my two babies and looking up at my worried mom and dad and seeing such love and concern in their eyes. Eyes that I have looked into pretty much every day for 30 years. Eyes that have been angry; eyes that have been proud and eyes that have watched me grow up. And in that moment, almost a year ago now, their eyes were watching me transform from their child into someone else’s (in our case, two someone else’s) mother. What a feeling.
Since the babies were born, however, I have felt more and more like my time as a “child” should be over. The truth though, is that I have never felt more like a child than I do now. I don’t know what I’m doing. I was thrown into this new role-this new place in my life-with no formal training and with no handbook. The person who sits here typing this instant feels less like “me” than ever before. I need my mom and dad to hug me and to remind me where I come from and what makes me, well, me. Moreover, and I’m not particularly proud to say this, I need to be coddled and comforted and treated like a baby. I got a bad cold two months after the babies were born and I remember telling my mom that I just felt terrible. She was concerned but I remember realizing in that moment that it didn’t really matter how I felt anymore. What mattered was that the babies were here and that they were ok. I was secondary. I wasn’t their number one baby anymore.
There is such fundamental transformation that occurs post-partum and so much of it isn’t addressed in baby books or on websites. The only way I can really explain it is that in an instant, everything you were and everything you felt and everything you cared about disappears and you wake up a new person with new feelings and new priorities. I know the old me is somewhere deep down in the back of my mind, but this new self is who stands at the forefront. In fact, when your old self tries to rear its head-perhaps at a bachelorette party or a wedding-your new self reminds you that you are somebody’s mother. You have to take care of living beings. You are responsible. You are in charge. Furthermore, when I look at clothes that I wore before the babies were born-clothes that highlighted parts of my body or were somewhat sexy-I think about wearing them now and think, you are somebody’s mother-you are no longer viewed in that light. When I am sad, or need the comfort only my mom and dad can provide, I remember that I am somebody’s mother and what is hurting me or upsetting me doesn’t really matter anymore. What matters is them. And everything else is less important.
I don’t have some grand conclusion or answer to this problem. All I know is it exists and it’s been difficult for me to deal with. I am self-centered and I enjoy being coddled and comforted and protected by my parents. It is a harsh reality that I no longer occupy that role anymore. There is a new role for me and while it’s one I love and feel unbelievably lucky to get to fill, there are moments where I resent it and long for my mother’s eyes and her touch. If you’re reading this now mom, please come over and hug me :-).