Reclaiming my new identity
Good morning good lookin! I don’t know if you can hear my noticeable tonal shift through whatever device you’re on, but I’m in a great mood. I’m finally pulling myself out of the bleary eyed lucid dream/at times low key nightmare state I’ve been in for the past 6 months since I had my baby, and I am reassembling all the fractured pieces of myself into their new normal. As in, I can’t nor do I want to “get my life back,” but I’m ready to bring back some elements that have gone by the wayside in recent months.
If you’ve ever been through a life altering event (ie had a baby, moved country, gotten married, gotten divorced, lost a loved one, had a slice of NY pizza, etc), you know that there’s an identity shift that happens when you are forced to take a break from “you” and focus on someone/something else. And, like, even if you can’t articulate why, you know you’re not the same after that pizza. It can take time to reconcile.
I took a lot of years to soul search and decide what sort of person I wanted to be, where I wanted to be, and who I wanted to be with. Remember on “Look Who’s Talking?” when her married boyfriend is like “I’m going through a selfish phase right now.”? That really resonated with me, and I understood that it’s much better to have the selfish phase before a baby’s in the picture. Also, I had my first proper crush on John Travolta in that movie. He pre-dated Zack Morris, if you can believe it.
As they do, my baby has been allowed to call the shots for the past six months. He eats first, he decides when we wake up, he gets held if he needs to be held, his diaper change usurps anything we may be in the middle of, etc. We’re wading through the first year of being parents - the good, the bad, and the poopy.
Suddenly, I’ve had a realization:
As much as I adore this human, I really don’t want my whole life to be about my baby.
I can’t wrap my identity and self worth up into him, as squidgy as those thighs are. And they’re the squidgiest. Every new parent wrestles with an identity shift. Like any transformative life event, you feel branded. You’re a “mom” or “divorcee” or “wife” or “ex-pat,” etc. It takes work to maintain those parts of your identity that you wish to remain.
So, the work starts now.
For me, that means I have to rediscover my creativity. I’ve always been happiest when I’m writing something - anything - even the most inane topics. I once wrote a paper about how Ben & Jerry’s flavors could be used to describe the Woody Allen movie “Love and Death,” and I’m pretty sure I wrote a short story in which a Cheeto was the protagonist.
We’ll talk about my college diet another time.
Pre-baby me was totally happy to write for the sake of writing, but that’s changed. I no longer just want to entertain. I think I’ve spent years shying away from serious content. I’m not sure why, but it’s probably the fear of being judged. Everyone has it, but it’s funny how quickly that goes out the window when you’re regularly reduced to just primal urges to eat, sleep, and survive.
Post-baby me is excited to finish the final book in my Raindropt series. My motivation was dwindling in my pre-baby months, but I feel reinvigorated. I’m also ready to tackle some heartier topics. I’m going to be judged regardless, and when it all goes to shit I’d like to be known as something more than the Cheeto lady. I really would. I started brainstorming a new series yesterday, and I have a couple of ideas I’m excited about. I plan to spend some of my remaining leave plotting out a new series and starting to write in 2019.
Also, I have to start consuming content again. Pre-baby me used to devour articles, books, podcasts, shows, the occasional movie and music, but that’s taken a major hit since having a baby. My motivations weren’t exactly pure - they came from a place of inferiority. I was always insecure about how little I knew, and I was on a quest to learn as fast as I could to “catch up” with my peers.
Post-baby me doesn’t care about hoarding knowledge in order to be taken seriously. I now want to learn about stuff because I’m genuinely curious, and there’s a hell of a lot more to the world than social media and Trump. I’ve been reading a lot more articles on the Washington Post and the New York Times, and purposely going deep into the papers to avoid just skimming political pieces. I’ve also expanded my podcasts away from just comedy, politics and writing, and I discovered all kinds of new voices like “The High Low,” “Unstyled” and “The Dollop.”
Finally, I need to make time for friends I love. Like, real time. I’ve moved around a lot in my adult life, and I’ve been lucky to meet so many fascinating people everywhere I’ve lived. Pre-baby me always dropped the ball as soon as I wasn’t in the same city as my friends. Some of us still text, message or FaceTime occasionally, but the number of friends who have fallen out of my communication rotation is much greater. I always just thought friendships were fluid, and I kept looking ahead and investing in whomever was in my current group. I reciprocated when people invested in me, but I rarely made the first move.
Post-baby me views things differently. I now want to keep up with people who I had a genuine connection with. I will happily make the first move if need be. I want to invest my time in long distance communications too and have more of a connection beyond following one another on all various social media channels. That makes us feel “caught up,” but a general, one-to-many style communication will never replace personal one-to-one.
I’m committed to making time for all of it, y’all! Let’s just hope my baby understands.