Was watching Rizzoli & Isles last night.
Police Detective Jane’s mother, Angela had been secretly dating her boss, Sean (Lieutenant of the Boston Police Department’s Homicide Squad) after her husband divorced her. They (Jane, her medical examiner friend Dr Isles and her brother Frankie) find out and wonder why she was doing what she was doing, especially since Sean was their boss. Jane was not only taken aback but found the incident disgusting when she found her mother and Sean in their night clothes. She couldn’t believe her mom was having an affair. Neither could she imagine (let alone accept) that she could go to bed with another man!
When Frankie questions his mother about it, she cups his face in her hands, smiles with a sad look in her eyes and says, “before I was your mother, I was a person. Is it so bad to want to be that person again?”
It tugged a chord. Is that what it was?
I had been feeling as if something was amiss for a while now. Every time I received a call from a friend or family or acquaintance they would ask me about my child, motherhood, how I was managing, what my child was like etc. Even when we met in person, it was the same. Watching the little one play or talking about what she had newly learnt or comparing notes with other mothers about their children were the highlights of the conversation. We hardly spoke about anything else. Recently we were invited to a friend’s home for dinner along with some others. It was the same – my contribution seemed to be restricted to my child. The ‘serious’ conversations were happening with others.
I’d begun working as a consultant and although most people knew about it, no one seemed to want to know how ‘work’ was. I was being paid for these consultancies but that didn’t seem like an important factor. They referred to it mostly just as a means for keeping myself busy since I didn’t have a full time job!
Why do people forget that I had been doing a full time job for 13 years? I did and do understand the pressures of office politics, meeting deadlines, getting screwed over. And, I can identify with the feeling of euphoria at a job well done!
Why don’t people ask me about the book I read, my experimentation with baking, issues I share on my blog, my view on life and relationships, my opinion about global happenings? Ok, so perhaps not global happenings as I’m not much of a news reader!
A friend, in a similar situation explained that it was the most natural reaction to happen – society and people have certain expectations and like new mothers to adhere to a set norm. Similarly new mothers too vacillate between joys of motherhood and an overwhelming sense of loss of who they were before. This is what happens – after a child is born you become a mother and that is your most important identity. Then referring to my child she added, once she grows up and doesn’t need you as much, you’ll miss these very moments. She will be irritated if you constantly talk about her antics, will find you overbearing when you want to be a part of everything in her life, and nosy if you expect her to tell you about all her experiences. So rein in these emotions of wanting to be ‘anybody’ other than a mother right now.
Guess she was right. She made sense. I had to accept that people only told or discussed with me things that they thought were somewhat relevant to my interests and current situation.
In fact, I remembered a conversation with my mother, a long time ago. She was narrating an incident about my dad being overtly friendly with a female colleague at a party. Then the conversation slowly veered towards men, relationship and sex. After a while I begun feeling most uncomfortable. Not because I was discussing these issues with my mother but because it was opening up a side to my parents I hadn’t seen before. What was unsettling was, that to continue with a meaningful and non-judgmental conversation I had to stand back and acknowledge that the discussion was about two people with their own individualism, own needs and wants, own expectations from life – who also happened to be my parents.
It dawned on me that my mother (and my dad for that matter), like me today, perhaps also wanted to be known as ‘a person’ other than parents! I know if we re-visit that conversation today, it will be different. I now understand why my mother is writing me a letter which she wants me to read after she’s gone, when it will be easier for me to accept her as the ‘person’ she is, rather than the ‘mother’ she was.
Within the cloak of motherhood, there continues to be a person inside me too – with her own needs, wants, wishes, desires. I do want to express that self, feel fulfilled and be accepted.
Although I agree with my friend, I don’t just want to be ‘anybody’ – I want to be ‘somebody!’
I had to smile when I read your story.
It reminded me of a day when I went to a preschool function where I got to chat with a very nice lady. After talking for about three minutes I said to her, “Oh, I am sorry, I haven’t even introduced myself. I am Gisela, Anna and George’s mom.” She said, “Oh, you are George’s and Annie’s mom? I am Sammy’s mom.Our sons play together.” I said, “And, what’s your name, please?”
It was the first time that I realized, that when we have children, we get used to introducing ourselves as moms, some even more than others. Or, is it that society almost expects us to do that?