They say this gleefully, as if they always knew my softer, nurturing side would win out over my acerbic, cynical side. I don't have the same zest for off-color humor I once had, or so they say. I wax nostalgic about just about everything, even wax.
But as I stare into this empty white page, I wonder: What happened to me?
Did I just become a mother and all the other aspects of life faded into unimportance?
Did I buy into the notion that raising a child was the most important thing I would ever do in my lifetime, all the rest be damned?
Had I gone over to the dark side? The one I had eschewed from every precipice of my adult life. It was possible; my new wardrobe was starting to show pinks and other airy hues from beneath its comfortable layers of black.
One thing is true, where once all roads lead to my hatred for (but undeniable urge to watch and take in) morning talk/news shows or national politics or pretty much anything that comes from a spigot at Starbucks, my love for this little creature growing (too fast) before my eyes overshadowed it all.
But that does not mean I ceased to exist, does it? The world as I knew it wasn't an illusion.
I propose what might have happened is that I ceased to be an expert.
All of a sudden, I didn't KNOW anything. I had to feel my way through one problem to another with little by way of guidance. I had to stop and ask for directions. I learned what worked for someone else didn’t necessarily work for me.
I had to admit when I was wrong, because clearly my mistakes were increasingly visible.
Neighbors, you know, they talk:
- The kid leaves house looking like blind person dressed her.
- She hasn’t combed her own hair now, 8 days.
- She washes floor with sink hose? (ok, I’ve done this forever, but I’m blaming motherhood now).
- When was the last time Ittybit had her hair washed? I think a forest is growing in there.
- When she drags the recycling to the curb its mountainous terrain threatens to blot out the sun.
Other things are only visible to me:
- I can remember the last book I read because it was only one of three in the last three years, although I can’t remember how it ended.
- I haven’t been out with friends for more than a year.
- I miss my old self sometimes.
I once had a globe trotting friend who told me that life, when you are unsettled, is always the most challenging to your sense of self. It almost always takes you away from the person you thought you were and hands you to someone you hardly recognize. And for a time you don't even realize what’s really changed.
When you are trying to figure out the ins and outs of a new city, trying to get the business of living all squared away — get a job, meet new people, learn a new language and customs — you forget that you once wrote poetry or enjoyed nature walks.
When you finally remember, and mourn the loss, the new challenge will be to fit bits of your old life into the new one.
Until you make the business-end of life fit like comfortable shoes, it seems, blisters are an unavoidable part of the process.