Before I had Lydia, I wrote a blog post expressing my fear of becoming uncool after becoming a mom.
This post amuses (and embarrasses) me now because I am just SO COMPLETELY FAR from caring about that anymore. The fact that I even worried about it tickles me now.
At the time when I posted it, one mother responded with something like, “After a tough night with my kid, I’m too tired to care about being hip!” I inwardly cringed. That’s exactly what I’m afraid of! You are an example of what I fear becoming! I promised myself I would never let that happen to me.
Fast forward several years, and I’ve totally reached the point where I don’t care diddlysquat about how hip I am. But it’s not because I’m so caught up in the trials of mothering that I don’t have the energy to care. (Though it does contribute, of course. Mothering is truly exhausting. Before having I child I never could have fathomed how absolutely draining it would be, trying to keep a child alive and healthy.)
Here’s the thing. Becoming a mother helped me see that I’m so frigging amazing that I just don’t give a crap what other people think.
I made a HUMAN. Through giving birth and nourishing a new human being with my body, I discovered that I am capable of absolutely ANYTHING. I am amazing beyond comprehension. My body is filled with miraculous, unbound potential.
In the act of giving birth, my fingers grazed the veil between this world and the next. I caught a glimpse of the Country Beyond, saw heaven in the eyes of a new child. It was absolutely mind-bending and soul-altering.
After such an experience, whether or not I’m cool is just so beyond the scope of my caring.
In mothering, I discovered that I am wise, powerful, and fierce. My body is strong and my soul expansive beyond anything I’d ever imagined. I contains within myself the terrifying strength of a wild animal and the ancient soul of a philosopher.
After learning all this about myself, I realized with a laugh that all my concerns about being interesting to other people were PETTY. So, so petty.
As a mother, I’m now awed by the bonds that are forged between women by motherhood. (All those “mommy wars” people are always talking about? I haven’t come across them.) I am in love with the ancient community I’ve found, that stretches back to the beginning of history — that connects me to the Great Mothers like Eve, Mary and Elizabeth. I am honoured to be a part of it.
I can’t believe I ever thought motherhood was lame.
I know there is at least one person in my life who thinks I have become dramatically less interesting since becoming a mother. And what astonishes me is how very little I care about that. I mean, it kind of irritates me that this person can’t appreciate the amazing person that I am, and I grieve the loss of our relationship; but really, it’s that person’s loss. That person is missing out.
Let me be clear. I’m still sensitive about things. I want people to like my writing and to enjoy my company. I still make an effort to be likable. I’m cautious about sharing too many mundane details about my life as a stay-at-home mom for fear of boring people. I still try to dress somewhat fashionably — I don’t want people to think I’ve given up on my looks completely since becoming a mom. And I still struggle daily with other matters of self-worth — most notably, whether I’m accomplishing enough.
But in the big picture, I don’t give a rip anymore about whether I’m cool — whether people admire me, whether people think I’m hip/stylish/interesting. I’m too busy being awesome and knowing it.
I’m also less self-conscious about my physical flaws. Yeah, I still struggle with acne. My tummy pooches out a little. I always miss patches of leg hair when I shave. I don’t really care any more. I’m such an awe-inspiring being, these little things are insignificant.
I know I think/talk/write about parenting a lot — perhaps to a nauseating degree. I know I’m kind of obsessed with my kid. I don’t go out much anymore, and never to hip coffee joints. I’m totally out of the TV/music/movies/arts scene. I don’t know what the cool kids are watching, wearing, or quoting anymore.
This probably makes me totally lame and uncool.
Meh. I’m over it.
Please note that it wasn’t becoming a mother that made me (to my eyes) fascinating and marvelous. If you have not had children, you are no less incredible. It’s just that the experience of becoming a mother opened my eyes to the wonder that I am. I’d never realized before what an awesome creature I was all along.
Before I became a mother, I didn’t know how nurturing I could be. I didn’t know how self-sacrificing and creative and wise I could be. I didn’t know how incredible my body was.
Now I know. And this knowledge is so overwhelmingly more significant than anyone else’s opinion of my relative coolness.
So I am NOT saying that you have a have a child to discover these things within yourself. It might be some other great challenge that causes the blinders to fall from your eyes and allow you to see what a wonderful creature you are. It will probably be something that pushes you beyond anything you’ve ever done before — moving to a new country; some kind of mission work; caring for an ill or elderly person. Who knows.
But hopefully something will help you to see what a marvelous work of Creation you are.
Becoming free from the Need to be Hip has been one of the most liberating experiences of my life. I wish the same for young people everywhere.