June 6, 2013 by Katia
We’ve all heard this cliché about parenting before: your life will never be the same again, it states. I try not use them, but I believe clichés, so I was all prepared for life never being the same again on me, but what I was not quite prepared for was something even more fundamental – while life had already changed up on me once before and is by definition inherently capable of pulling stunts like that – no one prepared me for the fact that not just life, but me herself, the one supposed constant in my life, was also left behind in the delivery room never to be seen again.
I hit a turning point in my life when I stopped being one person and became two. And then there were three. Me and the two little boys who supposedly separated from me after birth, but I’m not so sure of it. Motherhood does a strange math exercise on you, it reshapes and enhances you by adding to what previously constituted you, but it also makes YOU smaller, by way of subtraction and division. Motherhood math split me by two, or is it three, and I am consequently both a bigger and smaller a number at the same time. How is that possible? Don’t ask me, I suck at math.
I distinctly remember the moment I realized I am now two. I was on an airplane with my husband and my then 10-month-old son (the one I call 4 Year Old), exhausted after a 14 hour flight, spent mostly taking turns walking up and down the isle trying to rock our socially excitable baby to sleep. We were flying back home for a visit with our families and we were already on Israel’s aerial territory when the pilot announced that we can’t land just yet, because there are thirty seven or some other ridiculous number of flights scheduled to land ahead of us. My son had finally fallen asleep shortly before that. I am not a fan of unexpected turns of events on airplanes and I was dying to land already, at the same time praying that the plane takes as long as possible circling the air because my baby needed his sleep. I remember noticing these totally contradicting feelings and wondering how I was capable of experiencing such mutually exclusive emotions simultaneously. I then realized that yes, maybe I wanted to land, but there was no longer such a thing as I, as in JUST me, that was a phantom, an island that was long ago replaced with mom, and we all know there’s no I in mom. There’s another cliché for you.
I recently wrote about how immigration affected my sense of identity. Motherhood was quite similar in that it too further removed me from the me I knew, and at the same time much like immigration it forced me to unearth some hidden, latent strengths. While immigration took me away from my familiar soil and replanted me elsewhere, I could still tell that it was soil that I was replanted in. Motherhood, on the other hand, often transports me to a different planet altogether and makes me function in unexplored ways as an object, as a noun, as so many things I am not, things that humans are not.
Being someone’s food for a while turned out to be quite restricting and a terrifying responsibility, while being a pillow, a blankie, a white noise machine, a comfort object was unbelievably satisfying. Losing autonomy over my body and becoming a squishy toy at their disposal – not so much. Being the Bocca Della Verita, the mouth of truth and an unquestionable authority, is humbling but mostly just awkward when I’m expected to deliver axioms on everything starting from what little boys should and shouldn’t do, to addressing questions about Life, Death and God’s ways , and if I’m really screwed then technology and mechanics. Being the go to, 911 number for any physical and emotional support and an encyclopaedia on everything significant and seemingly insignificant Ben and Daniel is the most honourable job I’ve ever held.
This is why I struggle so much when asked to summarize parenting in a sentence. How about: They say parenting will change your life forever, but it’s more than that, it’ll change you. Think of it as almost being replaced by another you, only in a good way. Yeah, I’m gonna have to work on this some more.
This post has been a Finish the Sentence Friday contribution on the subject “My life hit a turning point when”. Please visit our wonderful hosts:
Janine at Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic
Stephanie at Mommy, for Real
Dawn at Dawn’s Disaster