I Was Determined Never To Look Like "That Mom." Whoops.
The first time I went to a party postpartum, my friend grabbed my arm and said, “It took me a second to recognize you. I thought, ‘Who is that mom?’” I felt like she had just slapped me in the face. Sure, I had a baby on my hip. And yes, she’s my baby. But the thought that someone would see me and dare think, "Who is that mom"? One hundred percent nope. That’s not a question about me. My body took nine sweet months to grow a human with things like fingernails, armpits, and eyeballs but somehow forgot to inform my brain of this major life change.
The night I met my husband, we talked about how I recently had broken up with someone because he wasn’t sure he wanted to have a family. Similarly, he had just been dumped because he didn’t know if he wanted kids. For this reason, I didn’t even consider my husband as a potential mate. At the time I felt like I wanted a baby, but the closer I came to that reality, the less appealing it all seemed. I watched friends struggle with postpartum, saw the sleepless nights on their faces, heard the endless cries of colicky babies, and witnessed friends experience pure rage towards their spouses. It scared me to my very core.
And then I got pregnant. As a naturally anxious person, I was haunted by the idea that I was probably creating a monster that would ruin my life. It’s the biggest roll of the dice there is — way bigger than when you try on those crazy sample wedding dresses and someone fastens it to you with huge metal clips and says, “Don’t you just love it?” My daughter could be truly brilliant with a heart of gold, or a tyrannical demon child. But I made a pact with my husband: if she started killing small animals we would report her to the authorities immediately. I’ve learned a thing or two from Law & Order’s Olivia Benson.
My daughter could be truly brilliant with a heart of gold, or a tyrannical demon child. But I made a pact with my husband: if she started killing small animals we would report her to the authorities immediately.
Now that she’s here, I can safely say I’m shocked and humbled by this new mom-iker. My core is still scared, but it’s also deeply in love. I look back and think of all the things I took for granted. Enjoying a cup of coffee from start to finish, showering without watching the most adorable baby I’ve ever seen poop at my feet, the freedom to peruse aisles at the grocery store alone, making plans that I can keep, sex, going to an exercise class, booking a last-minute massage, taking a weekend trip to San Francisco, not having mysterious stains all over my clothes, eating a meal without sticky hands finding their way onto my plate, spending time buying the cutest clothes for me. A late drunken night, swearing with abandon, and leaving scissors on a low shelf. Also, sex.
Even more surprising, there are things I used to enjoy that now seem ridiculous. The most shocking one is going to the salon. I used to love getting into that salon chair. I could sit and flip through magazines; I loved a scalp massage during the shampoo. Did you know, it takes forever to get a cut and color? Why did this never occur to me before? Now, it all feels like torture. Honestly, three hours of small talk? I’d rather have bad hair.
Flights are a living nightmare. These used to be free hours where I could read, watch a movie, and fall asleep among strangers in the most unfortunate open-mouth position and not care at all. Now, when I board the plane with my tiny child I start counting down the minutes. I wonder if I look crazy wiping down the seat, or crazy for not wiping down the seat. I wonder if I’ll need the extra clothes I brought for her AND me because she might shit herself, the seat, and my clothing, more than once. I wonder if the flight attendant will even serve me a much-needed glass of wine while I’m breastfeeding. And, just as I break down and shove an iPad in front of her tiny, hollering face, she takes it and throws it across the aisle, hitting a person napping across the way. Still working on perfecting my, ‘I’M SO SORRY, I’M A GARBAGE MOM’ shrug.
Did you know, it takes forever to get a cut and color? Why did this never occur to me before? Honestly, three hours of small talk? I’d rather have bad hair.
And another joyous thing never to be the same again: vacation. Not only do we not sleep, we also no longer have access to the comforts of home to entertain and distract our child. It means so much carrying of a heavy sack of baby. It’s not relaxing, which for most people is embedded into the definition of vacation. And if you’re me, you’ll definitely throw your back out. But not while you’re on your vacation when it would be a good excuse to stay in the hotel room and rest. If you’re me, it will happen when you’re finally home, 20 minutes after you’ve dragged your last piece of luggage through the door. But with an Icy Hot patch on my back, two-inch roots, covered in fecal matter, eyeing a coffee always a few feet out of reach and trying to wipe the face of a child who repeatedly calls me “dada,” I’ve truly never been happier.