Yesterday (seeing as we are INSANE and all) Joey and I went to the mall to knock out the remainder of our Christmas shopping. With one exception, we accomplished that. Which is impressive when you consider how long we were sidetracked by a going-out-of business sale at Steve and Barry’s, AND had to leave to take McLovin to a vet appointment and then come back. Actually, it was pretty fun, once I got over whatever strange third trimester hormones were surging. Because yes, mostly the things that “hurt my feelings” yesterday were silly. Except.
When we were finding a parking space at the mall, there was a girl around my age walking in front of us. She was by herself, wearing a cute, put-together outfit, her hair all fixed, swinging a shopping bag while she walked all alert and full of energy. Also, she had a teeny-tiny waist which I am guessing was NOT housing a rib dislocated by an ever-expanding baby.
I used to have a teeny-tiny waist. And her jacket would have looked very good on me. It was seriously cute. So for a moment, I was intensely jealous of this girl, who can spend her money on cute clothes, who has energy after Christmas shopping in the mall, who isn’t exhausted and waddling and uncomfortable and irrationally hormonal. Just for a moment, while I considered the fact that while I MAY (possibly) get my teeny-tiny waist back eventually, the facts are that I will be MORE exhausted after Ariel is born, and I certainly won’t be spending my money on cute clothes first and foremost. Or shopping by myself. Just for a moment, I rebelled against that idea.
But then, I wasn’t anymore. Because, I reminded myself, I get a BABY. And that doesn’t instantly turn me into a frumpy middle aged woman. I realized that part of why I’m scared about being a mother is because I haven’t made it MINE yet. It seems so hard to reconcile my idea (which is probably somewhat skewed anyhow) of Motherhood with my idea of being 24. Most likely, if I try to squeeze all my personality and priorities into some abstract and two-dimensional idea of Who I Must Be Now, then yes. I will probably be jealous of carefree-looking girls for the rest of my life. Also, I will probably be a lousy abstract and two-dimensional mother, and a discontented person.
I know better than to do that, though. I learned in college to own my experiences and situations, to make them my own, with my own interpretation and twist. Teaching? I do it my particular way, and probably would hate it if I had tried to reduce myself to a cliched maxim engraved on some cheesy apple decor. But I love it MY way, and I’m good at it, and it fulfills me. Marriage? Would I be so incredibly happy with mine if I had re-created myself as the Perfect Wife? Would Joey?
Granted, I was terrified of these things before I experienced them (which is actually a reassuring thought in this context) and I still worry and stress quite a bit about them. As I tried and tried to warn Joey when we were engaged, I am VERY HIGH STRUNG. But I love these things, and I have learned how to do them my own way.
For some reason, it is a huge temptation for me to cling desperately to a stereotype when confronted with an unknown situation. Probably because I desperately want to do everything Right. And it is a huge temptation to attempt re-creating myself to fit whatever mold, to be a safe concept rather than a flawed human being. But like I said, I know better now. So realizing that THAT is what I have been doing for the past seven months… it was a wonderful kick in the pants. Recognizing that you have a problem is the first step, etc.
In other words, I had a major epiphany in the parking lot. It was a moment.
A moment which I really should have kept to myself, or maybe tried to express at a different time. However, I tried to explain what I was thinking to Joey as we walked into the mall. But I didn’t get much further than “Did you see that girl, walking in front of us? I was just so jealous of her for a second, with her cute clothes and being skinny…” Which is about a quarter of my whole thought, here. And then Joey interjected, “You really don’t want to be pregnant, do you? You must hate it, you complain about it all the time.”
I really hate crying in public places. But sometimes you aren’t left with a lot of alternatives.
I don’t know how that sounds to anyone else, but I had two interpretations.
1.) For the love of God, stop whining, woman. Do you think you are the only person to ever have been pregnant?
2.) You don’t love the baby enough.
Neither of which is what he meant, as was restated numerous times in numerous apologies that followed immediately after. I KNOW.
Joey generally prides himself on not making a lot of Stupid Husband Comments, and really, they are very rare. Of course, he did follow that one up with, “But you shouldn’t be jealous of her, baby. You have me!” Which was really a reference to how I tend to think of motherhood in single-parent terms because that is how I was parented, and how he is There For Me and will support me, etc. He realized right away that it didn’t sound quite like a rousing endorsement just then, though.
I really couldn’t BEGIN to explain either my tangled-up epiphany or the way his comment made me feel (and still haven’t, actually) so I mumbled something about my feelings being hurt. And then sniffled my way through Barnes and Nobles, and pouted my way through a bowl of teriyaki chicken and rice at the food court. And then was sufficiently distracted by all the shiny things, my shopping list, and the promise of a movie date later in the evening, so I was able to get the heck over myself. Which is nice.
But it was kind of hard to hold onto that nice shiny epiphany until just now, when I wrote it down. Which, I guess, is why I have a blog.
So yeah, Note To Self: Remember to do Motherhood your own way. Duh. Also, find a jacket like that girl had. It may actually be possible to have BOTH a baby and cute clothes. Crazy thought, I know, but worth a try!