What I Am is What I Am

Monday, October 13, 2008
We just returned from South Carolina, where I got to watch and toast my very best friend from college as she married the only boy in the world as cool as her. Dancing under the Southern sky, seeing the friendly faces of my fond college memories, spending two whole nights with my husband, sans the kids...it was total bliss. And yet...

And yet, for the first time in my oh-so-long tenure as a parent, I felt, during moments of the weekend, as if I were masquerading as somebody I'm not. It wasn't just that I missed my kids, which of course I did. It was more that, for the first time, leaving my kids behind felt akin to not bringing my full self to the wedding. I haven't truly wrapped my head around this yet. My husband and I have every intention of spending time together without our children, even when they are small. We plan to vacation both with them and without them. So it's not that I'm feeling like I can't be without my children. I think what threw me for a loop was the fact that, previously, during a night out "without kids," or a big group dinner comprised of couples who left their young children at home--previously these evening used to feel like an escape, an oasis in the often mundane desert of new motherhood. This time it didn't feel like that. It felt wonderful, don't get me wrong. But it felt almost like I was an imposter. Who is that woman in the green silk, talking about the bar on Amsterdam Avenue with her still unmarried, still child-less friends? Does she even resemble the person back in Berkeley, who plans the lunches and can pump (in style!) in her sleep?

And still, I am over-simplifying things. I don't mean any of this in that way we all joke that the biggest concern in our lives used to be which party to go to Friday night. I think I mean that, all of the little things about motherhood that I tried to, up to this past weekend, shed for the nights out have somehow become internalized. Moreover, I don't really want to shed all of it anymore. During the weekend, this became evident both for better and for worse. Giving my toast, the anxiety I might have once felt looking into the eyes of people I so very much wanted to please was replaced with a sense--almost a sense of gravitas. I have something to say. While this might not stem perfectly linearly from being a mother, I can tell you with absolute certainty that they are related. On the flip side, later on, during the reception, when I had to admit that my 4 1/2 inch heels were hurting me enough to sit a dance out, I looked around the room, at my friends who never left New York, many of whom are choosing not to have children--as we all discussed as a possibility back in college--and a small part of me knew I didn't belong there anymore.

On the plane ride home I wished that my kids were old enough to attend the wedding and bear witness. I would have liked them to try to decode the myriad inside jokes that still seemed funny--at least to us!--12 years later. I would have enjoyed the look of what I can only assume would be abject horror on their faces as they saw their mother go-go dance with her college roommate. I think I wanted them to meet me, as I was. The wedding afforded me the chance to re-visit that girl. She is very different from the girl I am now, but I think we would have been friends.
5 comments:
Janie T said...

I have felt like this before. Like "can't live with them can't live without them"! I think this is part of the reason women gravitate towards friendships with other moms, once they have kids. There is always a sort of backstory that is common.

Anonymous said...

This is beautifully written. But I have to wonder: Don't you think you have relegated yourself firmly in the realm of "mommyhood" if you feel like you no longer belong to your former life? I am enjoying reading this blog. In part because I like the idea of "Mom Plus More." And I really liked this post. I just think you may be limiting yourself.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous commentator. I am a mom as well, but don't get how people lose their own identity and become just moms! To each his own ofcourse :D

Shona said...

I didn't get that from this post at all! I thought it was a great rendering of that chasm between who we were and who we are. Loved it!

deepa said...

Thanks for reading, guys! Not sure if I am firmly in "mommyland" or in some amalgam of mommyland, before-mommyland and after-mommyland. I'm still figuring it out--and I have a feeling I will still be saying that 18 years from now...! At the end of the day, the part that I may not have communicated properly is that the wedding was SUPER fun! I LOVED the nostalgia and the pure love that is so intertwined with seeing my college friends. And in many ways it felt like things were exactly the same as they were in 1999. That I felt "different" at times--that was just one facet of a pretty perfect weekend.

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