Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mother vs. Woman

There are days I try to pretend my life is unchanged. Yesterday, I paraded around Manhattan like any ordinary woman. Sure, there was a baby strapped to my chest, but she was quiet, and we were taking subways and wandering around the Calder exhibit at the Whitney and sitting at a little French bistro with friends. We were laughing and talking, and sure, there had been a blow-out at the museum where the baby pooped through her Je T'Aime t-shirt and her onesie and her brand new blue jeans and the Ergo carrier, but I was surrounded by other mothers, and they had handed me wipes and laughed with me and wetted paper towels in the second floor bathroom, so it all felt okay.

It felt so okay, in fact, that I kept going, somehow ending up down at my office, sitting in a meeting for Painted Bride Quarterly , pretending I was still just an editor for the magazine, pretending there wasn't a baby hanging off my boob, a baby crying again, a baby being bounced, a baby back on my boob. Sorry, I kept saying. No, no, they said. It's fine. Until finally, it was obvious that it wasn't fine, and so I stood, stuffing Eva back in her sling and saying my goodbyes. And, uhm, the editor-in-chief said, you know the sling is all wet, right?

I palmed the bottom of it, and yes, it was true, the bird had peed right through it. And then, not a second too soon, we were in the back of a cab, heading home, and I was feeling decidedly unlike the woman I used to be, feeling like no one but a mother who had taken her baby out for far too long. We rode over the Brooklyn Bridge, and I whispered that I was sorry, but as bad as I felt I couldn't promise that it wouldn't happen again.

The mother in me wanted us to be getting our bedtime routine downpat (bath, lavender massage, goodnight moon!), but the woman in me wanted it not to matter; the woman in me looked back at the city and thought heck, better to see the world than lay around dreaming. I have a feeling these two are going to be fighting it out for many years to come. I just hope the best one wins.

7 comments:

Helios said...

Yup, I felt a little of that conflict yesterday too. But..how did you sneak a pic when there were so many security guards??? Jealous. :)

little miss mel said...

When I had Rt, in LA, it was a hard transition btwn the old me and the new me. Of course there were plenty of people there who had babies, but I felt like the only one.

It's not easy, but by the looks of it, you're doing great! So, it was a messy day, BUT you did it. That's more important than anything.

By not sticking to the routine EVERY time, your helping her to be more adaptable. (in the long run!)

I wish I pushed the envelope more with Rt. I would have enjoyed the "new me" a lot more, by including the old me more often. :)

Nicole Callihan said...

Beautifully said, littlemissmel! The old me concurs! And the new me does too! And Helios, it was certainly the "woman" in me who snapped the pic; the mother in me was like, isn't this illegal1? And thank you, btw, our IM session this morning is what made me write this.

Zoe Ryder White said...

I felt that conflict too, honey! Especially during the last few stops on the f-train when a red-faced little lassie was howling in the ergo, to the dismay of my fellow travelers. I guess we'll get the hang of this balancing act as we go . . .

Helios said...

Well..now I feel inspirational! :)

Sorry to hear those last few stops were rough Zoe! I arrived at our dinner destination with Quinn screaming his head off with hunger. oops.

Maggie May said...

love your red hat in picture :)

and you will blend your selves. after three babies i have. :)

Kim Vanderbeek Malone said...

Very well put!! I'm always trying to figure out what's the "best" thing to do and if I should or shouldn't take them places. I think I get scared since it's 2 on 1 in my case..... When I take them out, they do great so maybe I should take that as inspiration to do it more??