Wednesday, March 28, 2018

You Know Nothing, Jennifer Fread

Y'all. It is embarrassing how long it's been since I sat down to write. Em.Bar.Ass.Ing. Like, 2015 embarrassing. So let's catch up, shall we? I'm not totally sure what happened in most of 2015, but in 2016 there was this pretty big life change that, if ever a topic deserved addressing here, this was it...

Quick. Go get another test.

Yeah. That's a baby.

Yeah. For real. In April of 2017 (yeah, I know, that was almost a year ago), my Daughter (what?!?!?!) was born. And holy fuck did my world change. I mean, everyone says that, right? What I think is, I changed. My world, really, isn't that different. My circle of close friends is smaller, (want to find out who your real friends are? Have a fucking baby) but better. But what I think is more true, is that I changed. My daughter has brought this clarity that I haven't had...maybe ever. So, real quick, let's get the cliches out of the way:

- Yes, they instantly change everything
- Yes, you really do instantly fall in love harder and easier than you ever did before (more on this later)
- Yes, you check if they're breathing every 10 minutes
- Yes, you watch them sleep for hours
- Yes, you really are that tired all the time
- Yes, you feel your heart now living outside of your body
- Yes, they're worth it
- So worth it

Back to my point. Clarity. Throughout my life I have worn many hats, and been many things. Through each phase and season, I saw myself as what I did, and have always struggled to embrace Who I Am. Whenever a season would end, I would struggle for awhile, because my big label no longer applied. I would search for a new one, a new Thing to do or be. Smart high school kid and athlete. Dean's List college student, honors graduate. Youngest person promoted to management. Trainer. Tae Kwon Do whatever belt. Derby girl. Caretaker. Was I different people throughout these phases? Well, yes and no. Of course you evolve over time, and adjust who you present for your audience, with varying levels of success. I never got the hang of playing the game to get ahead. But I'm getting off track.

On to the biggest cliche yet. One night, my derby wife asked me how I was doing, since anyone who knows me (knew me) would never have thought I'd have children (me included). She asked how I was doing with bonding with the kid and this new, weird as fuck role. And I realized that this was exactly who I was always supposed to be. All my posturing, my attempts to convince myself I didn't want kids, my failed experiments, even my successes had served to sharply highlight this perfect fit.

And you know what, I should have known. While, on paper, I fully embrace my water sign of Cancer, so many times I would act contrary to my nature. Because I thought it was who I wanted to be. At one point a had a huge circle of friends, but it so often felt forced. I played roller derby for three years, but cringe when I become the center of attention. I chased titles and promotions, rather than embracing a job that was a better fit for my personality and skill set. In any of these situations, when I gave in and did what felt natural, all of the resistance fell away. What I'm taking a long damn time to say is that my daughter forced me to embrace the core of who I am, and my nature. Behind the hard shell, I'm a caretaker, a nurturer, the fucking mom of the zodiac. This tiny human, who can do nothing for herself, broke through every wall I'd ever built and every construct I'd ever, uh, well, constructed. She brought out my super gooey center, after a lifetime of being tough and edgy and always at arm's length.

So, when I talk about transitive roles and titles and personas, and this wandering feeling when I was no longer that person....I realized that she also changed that. I'm her mom. I will always be her mom. And I've found this amazing comfort in that, even if I gain and lose a dozen more titles over the course of my life.

She has also forced me to face my shortcomings. I pride myself on being smart, and knowing stuff, and being that person that people go to for advice or for the right answer. Suddenly, I knew nothing about how to do the most important job I've ever had. I'm the queen of having my shit together; being on top of everything, on time, on point. Living with the inability to have a schedule or make plans has forced me to embrace the chaos. My home, my nest, has been thrown into chaos by all the stuff a new baby needs (and it's a lot of stuff). I've always been proud of my achievements, my degrees, my titles, my travels, and all the things I have accomplished. The day she was born I realized that all of those things mean nothing to her. To her, I'm a blank slate, who has done nothing but be her mom. And that won't change for many years, but I hope I've got a great story to share with her. 

I think about my own mom, from this perspective. I realize that she had a whole life before me, just as I had before Kahlan was born. Then I realize that, despite a life that I am proud of, the most important things I can do are still ahead of me. What I do from here on is far, FAR more important than anything I did before. Because now, she's watching. Now, I'm responsible for another person. Now, I'm responsible for being the example to another person. She's going to look to me to understand how to approach the world and react to different situations. If I allow someone to walk all over me, that's teaching her that it's OK. If I'm awful to another human, I'm teaching her that behavior. If I don't allow myself (or anyone else) some grace, I'm molding her to be just as unforgiving.

I have to be better than my shortcomings so that she can become someone we're both proud of.

1 comment:

  1. Although never biological, being a mom will always be my favorite thing. It just felt right, natural. Even when I had no clue what I was doing. I very much experienced it just as you've described. Losing that was the hardest thing I've ever gone through and that's saying something. Isn't it amazing how right life becomes once you stop fighting it? I'm very happy for you. This life suits you very well.