Does This Motherhood Look Good On Me?
Within a month of my submission, I found out I was pregnant again. And then I had a miscarriage. And then I was pregnant again. And then my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. And three years later, the piece still isn’t written.
A little while ago, I started thinking about it again, and about how my piece has changed since I first wrote the outline. The piece has changed because life has changed – I now have two children, not just one toddler; I have additional responsibilities outside of work hours and while my perspective and patience may have increased, the hours I have in a day certainly haven’t.
I thought I could write a piece on being a working attachment parent because I had one child, cared for at home by a nanny. My daughter’s days were simple and mainly dictated by a schedule that I had set in place, so staying involved and informed was not that difficult. I knew that the way we spent our hours together made up for the hours that we spent apart.
But now I have two children. One is in school and they are watched by a babysitter. We don’t have a nanny anymore, and the truth is, their days have little to do with a schedule that I have set for them. Staying on top of what happens during their day is macro-easy – I can ask the babysitter or the teacher how the day went and she will tell me, and if I have any concerns we will work them out. But on a micro level, I am often in the dark. My daughters now interact with many people during the day, and I miss out on the minutiae of their interactions. They have influences that range beyond their parents or nanny, and those influences spark ideas I am not always cool with. I am no longer their filter or their protector, in person or by proxy, during a large portion of the day.
And then I was reading a piece on Mothering.com yesterday, and I felt a little betrayed. And I felt like a fraud. How could I possibly be an attachment parent? How could I possibly be a nurturing parent? Yes, my children are vaccinated on a delayed schedule and almost always end up in my bed by morning. But for the first time, I felt like I could not possibly have a voice in that community. It was not a specific article that left me feeling hollow, just a sad realization all of a sudden, like, I don’t belong here.
We feel things that like throughout the evolution of our parenthood. We lose our place in the parenting continuum constantly, but it is always replaced by a spot, a belonging, elsewhere. Our infants gradually become toddlers; we trade commiseration over breastfeeding and cribs and diapers for commiseration over cooking and big girl beds and toilet training; our children enter school and we trade strollers for scooters. Every step of the way in parenting is an exchange of experiences.
But it’s like I have just walked into a store carrying a philosophy, the posted rules of which no longer feel comfortable; no longer fit and in fact, are beginning to cut off my circulation. And I can look around; I can scan the racks and the shelves and I can peer at the things that the other customers are putting on, but there doesn’t seem to be anything here for me.
I thought this was my favourite store, but this season, nothing here looks good on me. I’m getting the message that I should no longer be here. I’m beginning to feel bad here. I’m going to stop looking for things that suit me here.
I no longer have only one child and control over her hours, just like I no longer have a nanny and I no longer spend money on diapers. Things change. Life changes.
I have two children now; two funny, happy, beautiful children. They still spend most of their day together, and they still want to sit on my lap at night while I read them stories and they still want to squish into bed with us and sleep with their tiny arms around my neck. And I still make the choices I do with them first and foremost in my mind, and I hope that they know that now and will understand it later and be kind to me in their teenage years.
I might not be the kind of mother I had hoped I was. I might not be the kind of mother I used to think I was. But I’m not worried that motherhood doesn’t look good on me; I’m just kind of sad that the store I used to shop in doesn’t seem to have anything that fits anymore.
So I guess it’s a good thing that I’m learning how to sew.