Wednesday, October 12, 2011

all i really needed to know about motherhood i learned from a bunny

a nest of bunnies (both white ones still alive at this point)
when i went out to take my daily photo of baby bunny progress, there were only four bunnies in the nest. one of the little white ones was missing. i looked all over for it and finally found it, much to my sadness, cold and stiff, far outside of the nest box. it looks perfect and plump and yet perhaps the mama bunny pushed it out because she could tell there was something wrong with it, something that wasn't visible to the human eye that's just utterly charmed by the nest of furry baby bunnies.

mama mira
thinking that mama knows best, that's our impulse, right? we've been acculturated to think it. and i've been otherwise impressed at the transformation of mira, a rather fluffy and inscrutably expressionless bunny, who i didn't think had a whole lot going on in her little bunny head, into a very good and diligent mama.  i guess there's also an element of hope in the story i've told myself - that she could sense that something was profoundly wrong with her little white bunny baby, and not that she just accidentally knocked it out of the nest box and couldn't be bothered to get it back in.

motherhood is transformative. both mira and molly's thoughtful post on c is for capetown have me pondering that. tho' i am a mother and a blogger, i resist the term mommy blogger, finding it decidedly pejorative. i also find the lists of advice and navel gazing in the mommy blogosphere make me throw up a little bit in my mouth. there's a lot of piety and righteousness and i don't do well with either of those (and don't even get me started on homeschooling).  there's also lots of talk of losing oneself and finding oneself and there's also a whole lot of self-absorbed chat about how to get your old self back.

well, i have news for you. you can't have your old self back. and what's more, you don't even really want her back. you may still have her clothes and they may not fit, but guess changes and you needed new clothes anyway. realistically, those clothes are at least a year old and while i'm in favor of choosing lasting pieces that have a timeless quality, just buy some new clothes.

of course, clothes are the least of your worries. here's the deal - you are still who you are, you just added a new dimension in becoming a mom. i had always said i didn't want children. it turns out that the reason i thought that was because until i met husband, i wasn't with a guy that i could see being that tied to (despite years of serial monogamy and long-term relationships and even marrying one of those guys for awhile) for ever and ever. and so when we had sabin, i had a lot of worries about it - like everyone does. but i don't think i ever worried about losing myself.

i worried about not being able to go to the movies or travel or stay up late drinking too much wine and i worried about putting that feeding tube down her nose (she was born 10 weeks early), and i worried about whether it was actually ok that her poo was that color. but those worries soon passed. the hospital taught us how to do the feeding tube (and since she doesn't still use it, it was a temporary thing anyway.) you learn that what you put in the baby comes out of the baby and if what you put in was green, chances are it will be rather green coming out. i stopped caring about whether i'd seen the latest movies and it stopped being important whether i saw them in the theatre or on a plane or on my computer. i found i could still have friends over for dinner and stay up 'til the wee hours solving the world's problems over a bottle (or two) of red wine. and as for travel? the child has been to the philippines five times, dragged across europe on a train, shopped in london and dublin and barcelona and was sent to the US on her own at the age of 7, so travel hasn't been an issue. turns out they have tickets for children.

if, when you have children, you continue to live your life, including your child in that life, it's the best you can do. you can't really lose yourself because, as i commented on molly's blog, you're the one person you can't ever really get away from. you might lose an old version of who you were, but we do that all the time anyway, it's called life and growing and changing. and if there's one thing that doesn't change, it's that we change. our priorities, our desires, our is change. but if you show your child that you're strong and secure in who you are and that you'll protect and help and cherish them and be there for them when they need you, you'll be the best mom you can be. even mira knows that.

oh the bunny adventures you'll have...


will said...

Sorry if this is brutal but parenting is also a crap shoot. Happy songs, good food and well intentioned parents don't always add up to success. DNA, culture and social pressures modify more than parents usually want. Yes, yes, do your best but at the same realize your children will be taking on some tough roller coasters.

The thing is, you'll never have an "empty nest". Maybe for a few university years it may seem somewhat empty but the reality is, the nest never completely empties. My guess, that only comes when you die.

Parenting is a lifetime job/experience. Coping with your grown children is much more difficult/frustrating than your younger self realizes. Dealing with your child's first 12 years of life is a cake walk by comparison.

The irony? Your 20 - 30+ year old adult children will think of you as well meaning but irrelevant.

abby said...

When I first saw the photo for this post I was a bit excited because I've been thinking of getting a few bunnies myself. After seeing your previous post, or tweet rather (I'm not sure which), I'm on the verge of purchasing. I was reading about caring for them when I saw the photo of the babies. I'm smitten.

Much to my surprise, this post was not at all what I intended it to be, but exactly what I needed to hear. I always knew I didn't want to be mother, but now in a committed relationship, the table has shifted, but I worry about selfish things and the process and here you are with the courage to say it out loud. I too cringe at mommy blogs and know that I cannot in any way fit into that world.

Bill's comment seems a little cynical. It's evident in my parents alone that parenting doesn't end at 18 but is a life long relationship with plenty of ebb and flow. It is not to say that there won't be hard times. I appreciate your perspective and have gathered a new appreciation for saying it like it is, at least in one's own world.

So thank you for two outlets of inspiration today. 1. To clear up my perspective of the worries of being a new parent. 2. I think bunnies are the way to go!

--maria said...

Thank you for this post.

I can definitely see Bill's point of view..

But, being a 20 something-- I went thru those roller coasters.. and came out on the other side a better person but only because I had my mother there to talk to at 2AM or from an officer's cell phone :)

I think as I come to the stage in my life where I might have a child-- sure you cannot protect your child from all the things in the world.. but the reason I am who I am today is because of my parents actions/words towards my sisters and I.. and we aren't too effed up yet :)

Unknown said...

Loved your post, though the bunny is way ahead of you on having kids. I like hearing about Sabine. It scares me that she flew over the ocean herself. I've only done it once, so it's still a bit scary for me. I'll bet she did it with flair.

DahnStarr said...

Loving your blog more each day.

Speaking for myself, one of the things I liked about being an older mom is that I could take things with a grain of salt. I didn't get worked up about or feed into the little 'problem' things. If you don't treat it like its a big deal, then it doen't become one.

Also, never had the feeling that I lost myself by being a mother, even when I suddenly became a single parent. (That was never the original plan. Thought I had found my forever husband.)

I so agree about the over-the-top mommy blogs. Never been a mushy lovie dovie person. Knew I couldn't play the mushy mommy. And, don't get me started on the topic of "baby talk".

When I was having my daughter I knew that I was going to be responsible for raising a child/a person. I wasn't just having a cute little baby and playing dress up. I also knew that my 'me' time and life was going to change. It wasn't over, just changing and still is.

Karen said...

I have always felt being a mother completed me. And I cringe at the term "mommy blogger" too... they can be a bit much, some of them. I much prefer those that are "real", like yours.

Oh, those bunnies!....

c is for cape town said...

SO well expressed! Better than I did I think.
Poor bunny baby, but yup, Mummy knows best. Maybe I'll save this story for next time the girls defying me :)

Unknown said...

Thanks, Julie. That's all! :) B