Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mommy Metamorphis

     Last spring my life changed drastically enough that if I wasn’t on social media (and a horrible liar) I could have told a believable story about entering a witness protection program. I went from being a city loving, Designer label obsessed, full time working career woman, to moving to a town 3 hours away from the nearest Trader Joe’s and staying home nearly 24/7 to sing nursery rhymes and read 5-paged board books. Turns out you can shed your caterpillar skin for butterfly wings more than once in your life. I view this big life change as Part Deux of what we’ll call my Mom Metamorphosis. 

Not a Mom

   For me, the hardest part of becoming a mother wasn’t the sleepless nights or my new job as an around the clock milk fountain (though admittedly those were tough). The most difficult transition was how I thought about my identity. Who was I? What was important to me? Was I the same girl who lived downtown and complained when I saw children at restaurants I was drinking a cocktail in? Was I still the dirty joke-loving, daytime drinking advocate who frowned upon flats and poly-blends? Was I the 19 year old who while partying with a friend had an in-depth soul bearing conversation (the kind only possible after midnight and a lot of consumption of stuff 19 year olds shouldn’t be consuming) where we decided the saddest fate possible was that of his suburban mother whose weekly high point was her water aerobics class? We made a pact never to succumb to the bullshit white picket fence mediocrity society tried to shove down our throats, to refuse to settle for a sedated life inside whatever box The Man assigned us. Today that conversation haunts me every time I longingly peruse yoga class schedules online. 

Take a picture of us, being parents! I'll get my white linen jacket!
     I had a baby, before most of my friends did, and in the face of a lot of doubt and uncertainty and fear I fell madly in love with a depth and strength of purpose I’d never imagined possible. Kicking and screaming I transformed into a mother. But I was a working mother, and remnants of my former identity were easily channeled into my career. Work was the place I could still be an adult, an independent being who existed outside of fulfilling the needs of my child. I took pride in being different than mini-van driving, sneaker wearing moms, and I distanced myself from the perceived privilege of being a stay at home mother. Typical us vs. them BS where I martyred myself as a “real” mother (obviously experience is only real if you suffer) because I pumped milk in the bathroom 4 times a day, spent my lunch break staring at pictures of my baby, and most mornings I pulled a screaming child off my leg to get out the door and cry on my way to work. I tried really hard to believe that I was a working mom because my career was my sense of self and I couldn’t be a good parent without a sense of self. 

Am I holding it right?
     The problem was, the longer I was a mom, the more my priorities shifted and my sense of self morphed. Before long, my love for my child shaped so much of who I was and what was important to me, and a lot of that turned out to be inharmonious with selling enough clothing in a day to pay for a year of college tuition. As a mom, I grew an appreciation for polyester’s ability to fight wrinkles and withstand a lot of machine washing. I started to think it would be pretty convenient to have a vehicle with seating for lots of kids, you know, like a van, but mini. It seemed so dumb to wear Designer heels to the zoo. I found more beauty in my son’s finger painting than I saw in whatever walked the runway. I was losing my footing on the foundation of who I thought I was. 

     Work Morgan was fine with pausing story time to reply to an e-mail. Work Morgan was happy to come in on her day off. Work Morgan professed her eagerness to relocate away from family for a promotion. Work Morgan was a person constantly at odds with Mom Morgan. When Mom Morgan and Work Morgan both got pregnant again, the dichotomy became too much. I wanted to dedicate more to my family, but I also just wanted to live holistically as one person whose life had some congruency with her values (also, I wanted to never talk in 3rd person like that, ever fucking again).

Here pregnant Work Morgan takes a quick on the job selfie
wearing a silk Donna Karan dress and 4 inch YSL heels.
And here is pregnant Mom Morgan, sporting glasses,
a men's hoody and double chin.

     When my husband was offered a position in the wine industry in Walla Walla 3 months after our daughter was born it was an invitation to start over. No more commutes, no more sales goals, no more convincing myself that what I was doing was meaningful enough to spend 50 hours a week away from my family, meaningful enough to miss first steps, serve microwaved dinners, and fall asleep on the floor by the crib from exhaustion at 8pm. I’d thought I was trapped in my career by needing the money, but after what we spent on childcare, gas, convenient food, lattes, and work clothes it turns out I was spending most of the money I made by working on working. So we moved 4 hours away from my identity as a working mom. 

*I think it’s important to interject that I’m very aware not everyone has the luxury to be a stay at home mom, and that plenty of moms (and dads) feel the same as I did when I left my job but stay anyway because they have to. And lots of moms/dads are great parents who love to work. I’m sure a vast majority of parents around the world would find my identity struggle and butterfly metaphors frivolous and annoying compared to their real problems. No value judgments here, just talking about my personal experience. Now we’ll return to our regularly schedule frivolity. 

     So who’s emerged from the chrysalis now that we moved 4 hours away from who I used to be? Remember when you started middle school? Maybe you got boobs over the summer, or your braces came off, or you grew 5 inches. You’d watched enough Jenny Jones geek to chic episodes to prepare you for your dramatic debut as the New You, ready to start over with a clean slate. “Here I am, 12 years old, on the precipice of the rest of my life. It’s time to make my mark and be who I want to be.” I felt a pinch of that (except with an extra 10 pounds of baby weight instead of newly developed breasts) moving to a new town and starting a new life. 
Mom Morgan in full affect.
    Only I’m still not sure who I am as a stay at home mom. I have a preconceived notion that I’m no June Cleaver. But what does that mean? Did I scoff at elaborate crafts on Pinterest because I think that’s lame, or is it because I never had time to do it? Do I not like to cook or do I just not know how? Should I keep a really clean home because I like it that way, or should the house stay kind of messy because it would be anti-feminist of me to do all the cleaning? Do I wear sweatpants to the grocery store, or do I wear make up whenever I leave the house? Am I Frazzled Mom, Does it All Mom, or Edgy Hip Mom? 

     Maybe the key to staying out of the box I was so afraid society was trying to force me into is not worrying about cultivating or avoiding an identity as a mother. I’m all of those moms at some point in any given day. There’s a part of me that wants to make fun of the woman who looks forward to baby wearing and pushing the stroller to the Farmer’s Market every Saturday. There’s a part of me that rolls my eyes at my aspirations to run for office at the co-op preschool next year. There’s a part of me that vomits at the person who copied a carmel apple dipping bar off Pinterest and then posted a picture on Instagram like I do that shit all the time. But you know what? Those candy covered carmel apples were delicious.

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