I’ve had an odd week.
Things have happened, I’ve connected with an old friend, taken a walk down memory lane, had totally unusual conversations, and you know what – I’ve been fully there with it all.
Does anyone remember this scene from Shrek? About the layers?
[youtube 7d6ZsRM36RU nolink]
See. Layers. Like a parfait.
Motherhood changes you. You go from spreadsheets and workshops (if you were an adult educator and project manager like me) to nappies and breastfeeding in a blink of an eye. Unless you make an effort to stay current in your work place, you can quickly be left behind. It’s just how it is. World news has to be big to even break through the fog and haze of sleepless nights, sore nipples, and the mind-numbing awareness that you’re probably doing something wrong.
It’s just how it is.
Then you wake up one morning, and your baby isn’t a baby any more! You actually reclaim an iota of that illusive ‘me-time’ that people keep saying you should have. At some point you realise that your beloved is actually sleeping, and you realise retrospectively just how tired you’ve been. That’s a light bulb moment, I tell you. If you haven’t had it yet, hold on. It’s coming.
One day you’re scrolling through Facebook and you realise that actually you feel ready to move on from conversations about pregnancy and birth, about breastfeeding and baby led weaning and co-sleeping (okay, maybe not that one just yet), and that you actually need to be making decisions about schooling, or unschooling, or home schooling (or home education if you’re in the UK) and you think you’re kind of happy to be leaving the politics of parenting behind. Till you realise you never really leave it behind because no matter what choices you make, someone’s not going to like it.
But you go on, because time goes on.
Then one day you overhear a song you like and you’re shocked to discover it’s a decent song by ‘that kid’ who it turns out isn’t really a kid anymore because hey! 7 years have passed!
Then you hear some one you know is going to a Rammstein concert and you think ‘hey! I remember them! They don’t sing the wheels on the bus’. You may actually even consider going to the concert too. So you can be ‘the old people’ at concerts and clubs that ten short (LONG) years ago you thought were a little sad. Hey ho. The young’uns will get there too – in about ten years.
And slowly but surely, you start remembering pieces of an old life. You pick them up, one by one, look at them, admire them, turn them over a few times, and decide whether you are okay without them, or whether you want to pick them up again. And so you build the new/old/new again you. And it feels good. And you know in your heart you wouldn’t swap these infancy and toddler years, but you also know you’re okay with moving on.
This week an old friend reminded me how much I used to love LAN games and how the best LAN parties were at my house. Then he reminded me that no one does LAN anymore – it’s all online now (they don’t know what they’re missing!). We spoke about cult-level movies, and I made a joke about ‘shipping’ (when you approve of the relationship between two fictional characters, so do you ship Katniss and Gale or Katniss and Peta – yes, it’s the stupidist thing to come out of fandom as far as I’m concerned! But then, I’m old now). He was surprised that I knew anything about fandom. (He didn’t say this, but, you know, I’ve been a mum for the better half of a decade!)
I got layers, dude.
Yes, I’m a mother. But I’m also a woman. I’m also a fan of a good trilogy. And of a good computer game. And a good TV-series.
I remembered recently that I loved cycling. I’m working on getting myself a new bike soon, and I have set myself a target for next year too.
I may have quit cycling in London when I was pregnant, but I’m picking it up again. For me. Cyclist. That’s another layer.
Yesterday the sun was shining, so I was cruising around town blaring Rammstein and not even feeling sorry about it. A friend saw me and was shocked. She never pegged me for a Rammstein fan. Because she knows me as a mum. But I got layers.
Some months back a doula-friend found out I had acted as doula for three friends during their births. She was surprised. She didn’t know I was ‘into’ birthy-things, because she knows me as the mum of school-aged children. I homebirthed. I drank my placenta. I marched for birth rights. I don’t wear wispy skirts, but I’m a hippy. Layers, yo.
We all do it, really. We know people in the context we know them in, and we forget that there’s a whole history, leading up to that point.
But mothers are more than just women who had kids. They actually, mostly, want more from life than laundry and cooking dinner 7 nights a week.
I’m a mother, yes, but I’m a lot of other things too. I got layers, yo.
I’m a freakin’ parfait.