How to Begin...

on 14 October 2009

I feel a bit like Bilbo at the start of the Red Book, I have such a tale to tell but where to begin?

I suppose I begin with leaving...

I think that the Boy's entrance into our lives was difficult because he changed me. Fundamentally. From the version of me that I had been into a new (and probably better) version of myself. The old M is still there, it's the elements, the building blocks that make me who I am, but in thought and actions, I'm different from what I have been. That was really circular, even for me.

When I was packing, I brought out the clothes from my Before I Became a Mom days. Lovely button down shirts, thick cotton sweater vests, belts, scarves, funky socks and clogs. It was so nice to be able to wear the same clothes all day, so nice not to be drooled on, wiped on, snotted on. But oh, then I would feel awful for taking such delight in such a little thing...but that is a whole different ball of guilt.

So, while I was there I felt very much like my old self, I wore the lovely clothes and jewelry. I went where I wanted when I wanted without thinking about someone else's nap schedule or eating habits. I ordered whatever I wanted to eat rather than thinking about what someone else would eat. I had intelligent conversations without singing anything at all. I went to the bathroom by myself.

But at the end of the day, I was missing something, or rather someone. I had a ton of fun, I would do it again in a heartbeat. And believe me, when these opportunities arise, we'll be taking advantage of them. But I still felt like I was missing something. Maybe it was the Boy, but maybe it was ME. The version of myself that I am now, every day.

Elizabeth Gaskell wrote about this conflict in a letter once. She and her family had just moved into a nice, new house and she was writing about her preoccupation with it when she said, "is it right to spend so much ourselves on so purely selfish a thing as a house is, while so many are wanting--thats the haunting thought to me; at least to one of my Mes, for I have a great number, and that's the plague. One of my Mes is, I do believe, a true Christian--(only people call her socialist and communist), another of my Mes is a wife and mother...that's my social self I suppose. Then again, I've another self with a full taste for beauty and convenience which is pleased on its own account. How am I to reconcile all these warring members?"

My experience of the last few days is that maybe it's a choice like most everything else. Maybe we choose which version of ourselves we live...maybe we choose not to be selfish and vain and preoccupied, and instead choose to be patient and kind and generous. I don't know. Maybe this is old news and I'm just behind. I had fun. But it felt a bit like dress-up, where I wasn't quite the most truthful version of myself. And now that we're home and I'm back in my plain, ordinary life, I feel like I'm ME again.


Gina said...

Love it. I totally get it. So true.

Whimsy said...

I wonder if we struggle with identity so much precisely because we're always changing. It's hard to hold onto something that is always shifting, always moving, always slipping past us as a new experience blows into being and changes our very form.

The person you were even 12 months ago is not who you are now. The Boy has seen to that, just as you said. And so have you. You've changed with your circumstance and with your experience.

I'm just so glad to know all of the You's. And I'm glad you had a lovely time!

Katrina said...

Love this thought of multiple versions co-existing in a way. I often talk about my "past lives"--the former versions of myself that used to be. But perhaps they are still there in a way too. I love Whimsy's thoughts of how we are always changing and thus cannot hold on to one way of being.

I guess we are always trying to find that truest version of ourselves and it is a choice--the choice to be kind and patient instead of selfish and vain. It's overcoming the natural (wo)man and trying to be more like Christ. Motherhood certainly helps in the process I think.

Bird said...

I like funky socks as well.

When I go out sans Fussbot (how rare, but sometimes) I feel like I'm playing dress-up as a former me. Almost as though I can slip into the former me who used to be the person who wore heels and perfume but I'm still hiding the current me inside.

Its like when you try on certain pieces of clothing that are old or out of style and you remember when you wore them and what you were like then but you know that they are outdated or don't fit anymore.

I return to the current me when I come home, when I take off the vestiges of then and replace them with the uniform of now. I always relax a little, able to breathe more being my current me.