Dear Reader,

There are a few things you should know about me. First things first. Despite the fact that I love my son, I am not a good mother.

Good mothers are not whiny, sarcastic, cynical and mean. Good mothers do not have vices like vodka, two bottles of wine and a stolen cigarette. Good mothers do not have sex (or at least, they don’t talk about it)–-don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about it—and they certainly aren’t sexy. They do not play poker on Saturday nights. They are not obsessed and obsessive freaks who feel they sometimes do not belong at polite dinner parties. They do not question what good mothers are and what good mothers do. They make do and move on and clean up and stay quiet and calmly handle the mess that is always, always, always coming their way. Good mothers are not x, y, and z, or so I had come to believe through the stories our culture and our corporations had sold me.

I’ll admit, it’s still hard to resist or deny the seductive hard-sell of sainthood that is sold to women. It is protective and polite, beautiful and glorified. It is everything that the alternative is not. Slut? Whore? But these aren’t really options, now are they? Perhaps, you too, have found that parenthood exceeds all your expectations. For myself, I have never, truly, felt more exhausted, wacked out, imperfect, wonderful (and full of wonder) in my entire life.

Don’t let the old girl get you down

I knew that becoming a parent would change my life. At least I thought I did. But what I didn’t know, what no one had warned me about, what no book or online motherfest had dared to mention, was that motherhood would give me the greatest gift of my life… an identity crisis.

Wasn’t that for men in midlife? But there it was, staring me plainly in the face. Who I was supposed to be, I wondered, now that I had finally made peace with the woman I’d become?

Should I bury her alive, or would she come back, dirty fingernails and a broken tiara, to incriminate me? Could I kill her off, or would she hang around on life support, haunting my dreams, whispering regrets into my pillow, forever making a ghost of guilt? Maybe she had more patience than I gave her credit for, and would politely wait on weekday cheese and crackers if I promised to take her out on weekends? That-a-girl. Kick those heels up.

On writing

I’ve learned a lot in the past six months since my son was born—how to change a diaper without getting peed on unexpectedly, that being a “perfect” parent is a myth—but perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned to give myself a little credit for a job (mostly) well done.

First and foremost I write here for myself: to give my insecurity, fear, and self-doubt room(s) to breathe; to argue with the mother culture (and with myself) about what motherhood is, rather than what it should be.

On pregnancy

Pregnancy brings a woman so many joys and wonderful surprises. Nausea. Swollen ankles. Sleeplessness. Sciatic pain. Don’t get me wrong, I’m capable of fully appreciating the beauty and power of the pregnant body—provided it is some other woman’s body you are asking me to appreciate. But this is not a blog about being pregnant. Despite compliments from interested grocery-store patrons, I never managed to fall in love with my pregnant body. No, I’m not having twins. Yes, I am starting to waddle; thanks for noticing.

On fear, loss and love

Although I was (truly) eager to meet the little one whose alien movements kept me awake at night, my excitement was also coupled with a sometimes debilitating sense of fear—that in some way or another the whole endeavor of trying to have a child would fail, or that if it succeeded, I would surely fall short in role of “parent.”

It was not only the possibility that our child might “fail to thrive” (like the first time) and succumb to “fetal demise” as they so kindly phrase it during those first few weeks (euphemisms I still find distasteful), but also the certainty that no matter how much education I got—I would fail to meet the needs of my child in one way or another—that I would get an ‘F’ in parenthood.

I’m still learning. To love myself the way I am. To love others, too—for all their imperfect and strange and wonderful be-ing in the world. And so, added to the rest, I also write here for you—disoriented, disturbed, and disconnected with the perfect person you are expected (or expect yourself) to be, and the inevitably imperfect one you will come to love being.

Love and serenity,

ms. m
(lowercase and on purpose for the love of cummings)

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