Identity and Motherhood

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Missed that it was the March for Life yesterday. Too busy myopically focusing on my own progeny, and complaining about everything. Read that it was brilliantly attended, though I didn’t see much in the news. I guess the impending government shut down was far more interesting. And also, I didn’t really ‘read the news,’ I scrolled around the Internet, which I like to pretend is the same thing, but isn’t. But I did find this funny and clever long article which you should read all the way through. Here is a little taste,

But such mysteries begin to disperse when you realise that baby advice isn’t only, or perhaps even mainly, about raising children. Rather, it is a vehicle for the yearning – surely not unique to parents – that if we could only track down the correct information and apply the best techniques, it might be possible to bring the terrifying unpredictability of the world under control, and make life go right. It’s too late for us adults, of course. But a brand-new baby makes it possible to believe in the fantasy once more. Baby manuals seem to offer all the promise of self-help books, minus the challenges posed by the frustratingly intransigent obstacle of your existing self.

I have been thinking for some days, as I always do around the time of the March for Life, that being too comfortable makes life into a terrible tragedy. The more materially and physically comfortable you are, the more likely you are to think you are the center of universe, which turns you into the slow burning narcissist that we all probably are, whether diagnosed or not. And when you are the center of the world, it becomes psychologically difficult, to put it mildly, to accommodate the existence of other people, most of all children. Your very identity as a person is thrown into confusion. So then you have to sort of run around and either over identify yourself with your children, so that you lose your personhood, or Pinterest your life and over identify as a mother, or sullenly reject the whole enterprise by identifying as someone who drinks a lot of wine and lets the children go wild–I’m just scrolling through Facebook memes in my mind here. The one thing that rarely happens is being relaxed and comfortable with motherhood–handling a baby with ease and joy, standing by to watch the mystery of childhood unfold without becoming an insecure emotional disaster.

Every so often I run into some who relaxes into motherhood in the delightful way of ages gone by. The baby is passed around and coos and smiles and you look into the mother’s eyes and don’t see depths of unease and anxiety. I’m pretty sure I was Not that kind of mother, though maybe time and suffering are beating it into me.

Anyway, I’m sure the apocalypse will cure our narcissism. Until then, my aim is to keep putting the ‘fun’ back into dysfunctional.

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