I hate myself for blogging. I like blogging, but I hate that I feel like I need to get on here and be all HEY Y’ALL here are some tips. I also hate that I feel like I have to tiptoe around my background, because it never tiptoed upon me. It stomped my teeth on the curb and then expected me to keep being the PR manager for my family and upbringing: Kris Jenner but without any of the sex tapes and money and artisan butts.
I wonder a lot about, you guessed it: motherhood.
My experience as a daughter was not good. Motherhood haunts me. It is my most sought after position, though I had to hide that to make my own mother happy (odd, right? Tip of the iceberg, people) and something almost snuffed out in me altogether, living in addiction. “Taking care” of someone kind of made me recoil into a strange disconnected state of never even picturing myself as a mother; I instead latched onto weird career directions, hoping it might please, um, someone.
I once told my mother that I longed to create a warm, home-like daycare. I was about 13, and it brought me joy to think of being with young children and nurturing them while their parents were away, and my mother’s reaction was one of literal horror. She looked aghast, ashamed. I mean, she almost wrecked the car at 82nd and Quaker, right into Zookinis or whatever the fuck that place was called with the delicious salad bar. (I remember you, Zookinis.)
She later told me, laughing this ridiculous laugh, tears brimming in her eyes, how she bawled her eyes out to my stepdad that night (her body sluggish with Zookini’s), saying, “She will just be one of those Lubbock girls who throws her life away thinking all she has to offer is being someone’s BABYSITTER.”
For a woman who used a lot of daycare, it was a profound unveiling of feelings, you know? Not to mention how I actually had an independent thought and cared to share it with a woman I saw twice a month.
A couple years later, I was enchanted with the idea of the cosmetology program at my high school. I saw a friend go through it, and I thought it was brilliant. This time, both my mom and her father reacted in total embarrassment at my desire to try to enroll my junior year. They could not believe I would throw my life away to be a beautician. I didn’t do it, and struggled through AP courses that zapped my time and joy.
I share all of this because it is a mild story and yet still so scandalous to say it publicly. You never know people, you really don’t know me. If you know my mom, you don’t know her either.
That isn’t the point, I think it is just the old manipulated soul in me, so sure that you won’t believe a word I say.
The point is actually that I am comforted that there were small flashes of my real self trying to emerge, and that I did trudge around and overachieve and eat myself to death and experiment even with drugs secretly to finally wake up one morning to a plus sign on a pregnancy test.
That would be my little Wren. In about 30 seconds, my almost-completed Master’s degree felt like a faraway memory, my identity busted onto the scene, and I remembered who I was. Yes, motherhood helped me find my identity. I know, I know. I could not have uttered a more unpopular phrase, but suddenly, my true self and talents and wishes and hopes had a place in my life that no one could talk me out of. I was told, warmly, by my mother, that I could have an abortion and still sing in the opera in March. Who was due in March? My little Wren.
I am coming to terms with how much true blue effort motherhood is. It is beautiful and brings me to tears daily. It is also the hardest thing I have ever done, and I feel terribly inadequate. I can’t recall a lot about this daily, rigorous, real, dynamic type of relationship from my own life paired with the one I now have with my daughter and sons, but I swear to you, I think the effort is what counts. I have to believe it. I try.
The warmth, the consistency, never leaving, encouraging their gifts, the care I take to discipline… it pains me that I go to bed emotionally filled-up most nights, but it also lets me know that I am swimming alongside them and pouring out my time and attention.
I don’t really know what I am doing. I don’t know how I’m doing. I just know that if a pre-teen shared their dream with me, I’d be so elated I would wreck the car into Zookini’s, and then brag to their dad later about it. I think that might be the difference. I don’t want anything from them, except for them to be them.