Becky writes @ Tapdancing on the Edge of Reason.
Brian asked me to write a post on Parenthood and the biggest change it wrought in my life. Biggest change – I guess never sleeping in again, or the inability to have spontaneous monkey sex (Crap! Is this a family blog? Can I mention sex?) wouldn’t qualify as the biggest change, would they, even though they feel pretty major at times. And probably the whole eating bland and simple food because that’s what the kids would eat wouldn’t qualify either, because the culinary kid gloves came off several years ago – Mama needed shrimp and grits and those youngins were going have to learn to eat it!
At this juncture, it’s hard for me to say that any of the things I’ve forgone for my children’s sake are major changes, but that’s because they’re bigger now, the long years of training are starting to pay off, and mercifully, I’ve managed to block most of the worst years.
Ah, the worst years – now we’re getting somewhere! For me, the worst years were from birth to 5; the years they need you 24/7, the teething years, the Great Tantrum years, the toilet training years, the years where you feel like the damn horse with no name, in the desert of adult conversation. Unhhh – sorry, involuntary shudder – those were dark days.
It was the loss of self during those years, of my identity as ME, which seems the biggest change, even now, and I was lucky, in the sense I was older when I had my kids. At 34 I’d already had a life, I knew who I was, and it motivated me to teach my kids self-sufficiency, so I could go back to being me again ASAP.
For a young woman, becoming a mother perhaps before she’s really certain of who she is, it means waiting until her kids are half grown or better before that self-exploration can even begin, if it ever does. There are women who think they are the family beast of burden, spend their life waiting on others, and never become more than that. That breaks my heart, because I can’t help but wonder just what the world missed because that flower didn’t bloom. A woman’s worth shouldn’t just be based on her ability to perform the messy and mundane for others, but also on her equally important abilities to dream, to do, and to be heard as voice unto herself.