When I started this stay-at-home-mom business a little over three years ago, I was scared out of my mind.
I was sure that I would become one of those people that didn't know how to interact around adults, a woman who talked loudly about lactation and potty training instead of books, music, work, or travel.
I was afraid that I would not have enough to do, and I would invent pathetic little hobbies to occupy my time, to keep the days from blending into one endless loop of diapering and ga-ga-goo-ing.
Now, three years later, I am no longer scared. However, I am amazed: I was scarily accurate. I do talk about sleep schedules, poop, nursing, and discipline more than I should. At parties. With a glass of wine in my hand. Thankfully, I can get away with this because most of the parties I frequent are hosted by parents of young children.
Since most of my friends are parents, I live in this bubble where I am not tiresome. Every once in awhile, though, my bubble bursts. When I'm telling a "hilarious" story about one of the boys to my brother, he tries so hard, but I can still hear his stifled yawn on the other end of the line.
I'll get occasional emails that say things like, "Oh, Nancy, you're such a mom!" The underlining message is: you're so uptight.
"No, I'm not!" I want to reply. "I'm still me!" I still love campy stuff, like "RuPaul's Drag Race," which is "Project Runway" meets "America's Next Top Model," except that the contestants are all drag queens. I mean, the lip-synch-off alone makes the show quality television.
I also still love to read. When I go to the library now, I grab as many titles as I can, usually by scanning the cover and reading the first two to three lines of the jacket. I would read more, but I'm often peeling Owen off the bookshelves. Why are bookshelves so similar to ladders?
I'm still me. I am a child of the desert, and will always feel happiest soaking up the sunshine. On Sunday, I took Joel outside and he and I found the warmest spot we could and just sat. While Joel picked up leaves and pulled at the grass, I basked in the warmth and felt myself recharge like a battery.
I love music. Having an iPod has helped me reconnect with my high school roots, when knowing the "right bands" and listening to the "right music" separated the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. I'm listening to The Decemberist's new album, "The Hazards of Love," and I'm astonished by its creativity and artistry.
I'm still me. But I'm tied down now. The part of me that loves adventure, spontaneity, freedom, is presently hibernating. In college, my friend and I once drove to the Grand Canyon to see the sunrise, just because we could. I once dated a guy who played music with a conch shell. Paul and I used to go up to DC and try new restaurants, sampling sea urchin or speciality beers. We hiked in Baxter State Park in Maine, swatting away the deer flies and smiling at each other, thinking, "Can you believe we're here?" We talked about seeing Fiji, Scotland, Italy, Ireland.
Those plans are on hold. If and when they happen, they will be a different reality. A safer, more family-friendly reality. I'm mostly okay with this, but it bothers me a little, too.
I'm still me, but I am also, such a mom. I worry about the economy, because I want the brightest future for my boys. I can't read books like Night anymore. While Wiesel's depiction of the Holocaust was and is troubling, as a mother, it is too heartbreaking for me. Likewise, when Dr. House has a case involving a child, the TV is turned off. I can't handle to see a sick child, fictional or not.
I guess I really know that I am a mother because I just bought scrapbooking software. I used to hate the idea of scrapbooking: these poor, pathetic mothers who have nothing better to do but memorialize every moment of their childrens' lives. I mean, really. It's like writing a short essay about one's children every day and posting it online. What a waste of time!
This is what a pot looks like when it calls a kettle black, in case I was being too subtle....
I decided that the boys, especially poor, sweet, forgotten Joel, should see their lives unfold through words and pictures. So, despite the fact that it's not my comfort zone, I am going to give this digital scrapbooking a whirl.
I'm still me. Even though I'm a mom. Even though I fill my days with "pathetic" hobbies and talk about my kids more than I talk about ideas.
I'm still me. I hope that my friends outside of the "parent bubble" know that.