And Then There Were Three

35

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.

June 2013 126

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

Kate at Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine?

Dawn at Dawn’s Disaster

35 thoughts on “And Then There Were Three

  1. Katia, I couldn’t agree with you more if I tried. Seriously, even something as simple as getting ready to go out means I have to get three people ready not one anymore. And I too remember the moment clearly when I knew my life would never be the same. It was when my now almost 4 year old (first born) was a newborn newly home from the hospital screaming her head off the first night home. Let’s just say life as we knew it changed forever that night!!

    • Katia says:

      True, I shouldn’t have gone all metaphysical when even getting dressed is now three times longer!🙂 Thank you so much, Janine!

  2. That was poetic, funny, and absolutely right-on. You are seriously one of my favorite writers- everything I read of yours kind of knocks the wind out of me. To say you have a way with words is an understatement. I loved this.

    • Katia says:

      That was an amazing way for me to end the day yesterday, this is going to border on cheesy, but you know how I feel about you and your writing so getting that comment from you is quite amazing. XO

  3. Brian says:

    Great observations here! You make an almost philosophical analysis, but with enough specific, personal information to keep it real and easy to understand.

    Parenthood is full of paradoxes. Outwardly, it seems to limit us or hold us down while our childless friends enjoy more freedom. But parents, and mothers especially, enjoy a sense of fulfillment absent from all other endeavors or lifestyles.

    My wife had feelings similar to yours about breastfeeding, that it was a daunting responsibility to be available at all times for the nourishment of her “parasite.” (That’s my term, used jokingly, but quite accurate when you think about it.) All of our kids to some extent, but most of all our oldest daughter and our only son, were voracious eaters. They wanted mamma’s milk almost continuously, around the clock. I used to tell them, “To succeed as a parasite, you must remember that it’s very important to let the host organism eat occasionally!” I don’t think they understood.

    Thanks for another excellent essay. You are full of fascinating thoughts, and very good at expressing them.

    • Katia says:

      Paradoxes – there’s a word I should have used! I should start sending them to you for review before I hit publish!🙂 I love reading your comments, I always feel like “darn, I should have said that!” after reading them.

      Thank you for the kind words, it means so much to me!

  4. Karen says:

    great post, you nailed it babe. It changes everything about you. For me it’s the fact that my every though, decision, plan will now involve my son. Before It was just hubby and me, now our son is the first though in our plans.

  5. Considerer says:

    Yeah, you can work on it I daresay, but I kinda like it the way it is. It sounds awesome (on the whole) and I still hope one day I get to join in the cliches.

  6. Kate says:

    I’m not a mother and can’t yet imagine how it feels. Scary to have someone else completely reliant on you. Thanks for sharing!

  7. It’s so true! You become a different person. The “former you” is sort of still there — at least for me — but you’re always aware that there’s another person out there who is part of you.

  8. mysending says:

    I think you have actually expressed the truth of pure mathematics as well as applied.

  9. dawn says:

    Your plane story is so great! I don’t really remember that point in my life, but am so aware of how much my life has changed since having the Beanie Babies! Thanks for linking up with #FTSF this week. Hope to see you next week!

  10. keithdubarry says:

    Katia,

    I have to say, children changes something in all of us (whether if you’re the parent, uncle, or a sibling). My sister is now a mother of a 3 year old son and a 2 year old daughter and she’s now a different person. Because they live with us, I see the children everyday. My niece and nephew also changed me: I noticed how much care children need and how rewarding it is to see children smiling at you, knowing that you love them. Thank you for sharing this! Children are definitely the greatest blessing anyone can receive.

  11. Wow, this post was really thought-provoking. I fear for losing autonomy over myself when I have children, but I never thought about this splitting of the self…

    • Katia says:

      I hear you, Natalie, losing autonomy is a scary thought indeed and it happens to a certain degree, but it’s not what defines my experience as a mother, it’s not even a secondary by product. You’ll love it.

  12. (In my opinion), looking down one’s nose at cliches is totally over-done.

    I very much enjoyed your Post. Though not experienced in having children, your ‘turning point’ was expressed with such skill that I believe I know exactly what you mean.
    (Actually, being a fan of ‘the life metaphysical’*) I totally agree and accept the notion that the observer is altered by the act of observing (the observed). (lol)
    Still is fun to see such facinating ideas presented in concrete terms is very much a part of why I enjoy these FTSFs

    * metaphorically, speak of course

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much, Clark, for your as always thought-provoking comments. I always have to read them twice, which makes them such a fun exercise for my brain. Thank you so much for calling my writing skilful and my ideas fascinating, this is such a great compliment!

  13. Lisa W. says:

    It definitely makes you a very different person and I like that last line pretty much just the way it is!

  14. The Waiting says:

    You put some extremely eloquent words to a feeling that I’ve had ever since I became a mother fourteen months ago but never really noticed until now. Motherhood is not a thing that just changed me cosmetically; it made me over. It’s almost like my cells have been replaced with new ones. Loved this post. (And I’m also loving your blog, BTW.)

    • Katia says:

      It’s a great compliment coming from you, Emily, because I love your writing. Yes, I agree, it’s a great way to put it “cell replacement”. So accurate.

  15. Don’t work on it any more because this is perfect. I loved how, at the beginning, you said that YOU – “the one supposed constant in my life, was also left behind in the delivery room never to be seen again.” That’s something that I hadn’t thought about prior to delivery either. I love your writing, your voice, your thoughts. You. So much.

  16. Whitney says:

    This was one of those posts where, while reading it Im thinking, “holy sh*t, she’s in my head!” I recently had a break through after realizing that a lot of my relationships were changing not because folks couldn’t relate to me because most of my friends don’t have kids yet, but because I communicate differently; because I have changed. Oy. Good one.

    • Katia says:

      I love your comment. I’m glad you could relate to this (I think? Because oy is right). Funny that you bring up friendships, tomorrow’s post is all about that. Thank you so much for the comment and I’m glad I discovered your blog!

  17. This is such a beautiful post about the amorphous thing we become. I love the list of “objects”.

  18. Jen says:

    Katia, you just keep getting better and better. I really am humbled by the way you express motherhood. So many of the things you say so eloquently I am thinking…

  19. A beautiful reflection on the dichotomy that is motherhood. You carried these children, forced them out of your body, and yet, they are still that essential part of you. They look like you, sound like you, giggle like you. You change because you want to make them better than you. How do you not lose yourself in that? That is the question.

  20. I’m a mother through adoption yet, other than being a walking feeding machine, I an relate to everything you’ve written. Having recently adopted again, i’m now a mum of two with a (now) 9 month old baby and 5 year old and starting to notice how my essence has dismissed again whilst I morph into my next incarnation with my new identity of “Mum of Two”. I watched a film the other day where a character commented that we have many incarnations within one lifetime and I think that’s true. Like Dr Who we regenerate into a different version of ourselves at key points in our lives. The transition can be difficult and confusing. I”m there at the moment, regrouping, reorganising my essence and putting it all back together again. I think I’d like to be on that plane, in those moments, with time to just be and take stock and let the baby sleep whilst I find me again.

    • Katia says:

      Oh, that comment really touches me. I understand completely how you feel. While sometimes I wonder, will I ever get to sleep again, my experience with 4 Year Old teaches me that there are no permanents, so even though I know that right now I hardly ever feel like myself, this too shall pass and I say the same to you. Thank you so much for such a candid and heartfelt comment!

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