Going in, I was expecting that having a baby would be extremely emotionally transformative, but very little fun, at least for a long time. Because of the exhaustion and the sniping-with-co-parent and the paranoia and the vagina-stitches and the breastfeeding and the crushing existential weight of what you’ve gone and done. But, again, emotionally transformative, so that you push through the no-fun because you have never experienced such crazy, overwhelming love and devotion and awe.
And it’s been … exactly the converse, for me. She’s LOTS of fun, but I … have not really been emotionally transformed? God, this sounds bad. I love her so much, but I love her like I love my parents, and my husband, and my best friends, and my 15-year-old mixed breed dog. Incredibly! Delightfully! Fiercely! But it’s not a whole new feeling. She’s like having a really high-needs roommate that you just couldn’t picture living without. You know, the kind that would have a chore wheel.
I wonder, sometimes, if I’d be more OH MY GOD THE OVERWHELMING PASSION SHE’S FULL OF STARS about the whole thing if she was a little … more work? Is it like Stockholm syndrome? Is the CRAZY LOVE something that partially happens because you’re up all hours working on your baby’s behalf and you need to submerse yourself in her life-force in order to survive? But then, I know other people like myself with easy babies and zero hormonal depression that were absolutely FULL OF STARS.
I love this because, well, there are really only two narratives that seem to be allowed for women writing about parenthood: The Good Mommy story, from the woman who is overwhelmed with love for her child and has never felt anything like it and dedicates her whole life to the baby, and the Bad Mommy narrative, from the woman who has the social space to be a Bad Mommy (wealthy, white, heterosexual, urban, highly-educated) and who writes titillating pieces about how she is Imperfect in perfectly charming ways. A real look at parenthood — a recognition that in a world with wildly diverse individuals, there are going to be wildly differing parental experiences and feelings — is sadly rare. I’m glad to see Nicole contribute to a nuanced narrative.