The title is what a famous single academic called another famous academic after hearing that the latter spent her post-delivery hours in the hospital (no doubt while her newborn napped) working on a revise and resubmit.
I, too, am an unnatural mother. (Though with my first, I did catch up on the Harry Potter series in the hospital– there was a 3 day regression running at home, so giving birth came at a good time.)
I don’t identify with the standard tropes. And I think I only introspect on motherhood when I read one of these tropes and find I don’t identify with it. Since I no longer read the NYTimes and am off forums, that happens a lot less frequently these days, and I suspect I’m happier for it.
Grad school changed my entire sense of self in the way that bootcamp tears someone down before building them up again. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy changed me to become closer to the person I wanted to be. Motherhood, not so much.
I don’t feel that motherhood has changed my life in ways I never would have dreamed. It’s been pretty much what I expected.
I did think I would still love my cats as much as my babies, but it turns out that they actually did become second-class citizens. Loved and cosseted, but no longer the most important creatures in the house.
DH says that he never would have noticed how many curse words and how many panty-shots there were in Goonies before having kids. He also still feels just as much himself before and after kids… and he is pretty much just as I’d imagined he’d be. (Wonderful, of course.)
Loss of autonomy… no, that’s what work is for. Also, as my grandmother always said, hire good help.
Overwhelmed… well, sometimes, but not usually. DH is really great with children and once we got DC1’s food issues figured out (green peppers) it wasn’t so bad. There was a semester of awfulness in which the three of us were constantly sick, but that’s not entirely DC1’s fault– it was a bad flu year for everybody. We did wait to have a second child until the first was able to entertain hirself and could help us out, which helps.
It is true that my kids are amazing. (And I hope all parents think their kids are amazing.) They get more amazing every day. I don’t want them to stay babies– I love seeing them grow into responsible small adults. (And with that evidence, how can I feel guilt?)
Would I be different without children? Well, yes. All my life I’ve been tackling difficult goals and usually I figure out what it takes to get where I want to go and decide whether or not the effort is worth it. That year-and-some of infertility with the miscarriage was the first time that I ever thought that maybe no matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I wanted something, no matter what I put myself through, I might not be able to get what I wanted more than anything. Because my body was failing me. But then I unexpectedly got pregnant in the end and that lesson remained unlearned. So DC1 brought me back to the me who tackles challenges, and that lesson will have to wait another day.
So I may be an unnatural mother, following in a long line of pragmatic career women with perfect children, but I am a happy self-confident mother.
Are you an unnatural mother? What tropes do you or do you not identify with? Whether or not you have children, what has changed your life (if anything)?