Tuesday, April 29

La Criatura : Pinterest is my Therapist



This weekend O and I went to our first seminar about adoption. It was three hours of head nodding, chuckling, asking questions, meeting adorable babies and trying not to cry. We are excited but I am coming to find out that I may not be able to be as open about our process while we are going through it, as I thought I would. There are rules I didn't know about. I will clarify this later, when I have more deets. The gist of my post is though, that O and I are finally ready to do this. I am kinda freaking out, kinda excited, dreaming about chubby baby legs and also did I mention kinda freaked out? Getting so serious about becoming a mom has forced me to face some of my issues with myself and what motherhood means in my mind, and in reality.

Above: Tiny Overlord? I love it so much! Hilarious. Directly above: Fist bumps?! For real? I like remembering that when its my own family I can be as irreverent, goofy and fun loving as I want!
Quirky, beautiful, high design for children! Yes please. No childish furniture? Still visually stimulating and not gender specific. Dying.
Lets get therapisty: Growing up I always felt a lot of pressure to blend in. Like, you better become like everyone around you or you are being rude, and bitchy. My perception of motherhood was that its basically the end of a woman's individual life. She will be begging her husband to help her in the home, and have no more time for her job. She will accept this fate because its a woman's duty but she must stuff down any other feelings because they aren't right. As I grew older, I mostly remember baby showers, and visiting new moms at home. I remember over-air conditioned but somehow still musty church basements, lots of Publix white cakes and chilled gelatin salad. Fleshy, pale mothers gifting lots of pink, ruffly, squeaking, cartoon festooned items and I felt so much anxiety thinking that I would be that woman one day. Suffocating in a pile of pink. Soft chuckling around me at sexist jokes about daddy duty and how my life is over now...I...can't...breath! 

Lets take a moment to remember motherhood is so different in other cultures. This is beautiful to me, I love it and I turn to it in my mind when I feel the silly pressures of my urban, overly tech driven life.

 It just isn't who I am. I am not a woman in that basement. For a long time I thought it truly meant that I would never have children but I am a grown up now, and I make my own choices about what works for me in all aspects of my life. Still, it is deeply ingrained in me that I am an ungrateful, elitist snob if I reject what others accept and put up boundaries for myself. So my solution is to replace those images in my mind that scare me, with images of what I aspire to as a mom. You know, focusing on what I wan't instead of running from what I don't want. Building up a foundation instead. This way when I panic I can remember that there is this other scene I can focus on. I know that once I actually have a child, my energy will shift toward the connection I make with that human, but right now I don't understand that aspect of it, and I am focusing on what I feel looking into motherhood from the outside. 

I like this image because its playful and I wanna be dressed and have my hair did, at least once.


You mean it can be simple without toys and bright "baby appropriate" colors? No digital music? No motor? Does this come in a grown up size?
 I would like to be the same imperfect me but with a baby. No expectations piled up upon my shoulders except to love a new child, to grow with them and evolve into a family as graciously and tenderly as possible. To accept myself and my quirks, to celebrate the unknown and to not judge ladies in basements, but to wave cheerfully to them as I pass by. Every time I add a photo to my album I reinforce the growth of who I want to be but already am, and I shed that confused person who didn't know she could create her own reality a long time ago. Lordy that is melodramatic, but true also. Wait. Does that mean that every time I post an image of a perfect dressed, skinny woman with expensive accessories that I get to be her too? HAHAH! I am kidding. Sadly kidding.


I am so curious about your perceptions about being a parent, and did that change once it happened for you? Was it exactly like you thought? How did you make it your own experience? Did you have pressure from family or community to conform to something you didn't feel comfortable with? How is actual motherhood, culturally, different from how it seemed when you were a kiddo?

23 comments:

  1. You'll be a wonderful mother. Look how much you've already thought about motherhood! When I became a mom I was surprised at how supportive most mothers are of one another. Yes, there is judgement here and there. But, for the most part I get a lot of, "Whew, I know exactly what you're talking about, sister! Hang in there." Because no matter if you're a basement mom or a hip, well-dressed mom or you're a working mom...we all share many of the same experiences. We all experience the unexpected, the profound love, the cuddles, the confusion, the growing pains, the fear, the happiness and we all get barfed of from time to time. A little fear can be healthy and totally normal. You're going to be a wonderful mother.
    p.s. I love your art.

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    1. Thank you for your very sweet comment. I can't wait to be barfed on! Teehee. I love that women will support each other, it's a beautiful thing. You are right about mothers sharing the experience, I am looking forward to being part of the club :)

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  2. Right after I had my first born I had the "baby blues" and thought "my life is over". I thought I would never be able to sit down and enjoy a HOT meal, or take a long shower, or go out by myself. And for awhile, you can't. But it's all temporary. Plus, there's a baby! A tiny delicious baby that's yours! And that you want to smell and kiss all day long! I never had that 'basement mom' notion that you have, but I'll tell you: you're not gonna become somebody else just because you're having a baby! You're not a basement person now, so you won't be a basement mom! As for balancing family and work life, go to alisaburke.com. She is always painting with her daughter!

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    1. You are right! My career isn't going to suddenly evaporate just because I have a child. Its really my own fears based on what I saw as a child. I appreciate your advice, and I am sure when I am sleepless and fuzzy brained I will email you and be like..when does it get better :) Thanks Joana!

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  3. I am so happy for you on this next step, and wish you all the best. You are going to make an amazing mother to some lucky child. In some ways, I felt more cultural (American) expectations from acquaintances that just because I'm a woman, I'm supposed to become some crazy lunatic and worry about every tiny thing, spend hours researching bottle nipples online, and make my husband do everything my way. If people know me, they'd know that I would prefer to be a bit more "old school" and raise my kid in the vein that our parents raised us. It's basically the same as how people in our country tend to place expectations upon brides. Telling the men that we're never going to let them go out again, etc. Blerg. This all being said, the one thing that has really struck me as a parent (15 months into it..) is that you never know what will end up being right for you. I may have thought, oh, I'd never want to do X, Z and A! And here I am, doing X, Z and A! And cringing for possibly coming off as a judgy person to whomever was doing X, Z and A at the time! It's all good though. I love the support that you get from other people- whether it be friends or strangers or family. I've found much more support than judgement. Plus, maybe it's what you put out there. You never know what is happening with someone else in general, same goes for raising kids I guess!

    I was lucky to have my mom stay with us (my husband couldn't take more than a few days off from work) for 5 weeks. It was so wonderful, and helped with those early days. I got a little bit of the baby blues for a few weeks too, just because of the lack of sleep, and you're up every 2 hours. Although, that was because I was breastfeeding, so if the baby is formula fed and you can share the bottles - you can get some sleep :) Babies are fed with LOVE, right? I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed. But then I would make myself do something JUST FOR ME daily, even if it was only for 5 minutes. I painted, took a leisurely shower (even taking the basinet into the bathroom if I needed to), and made myself a fancy salad, etc.

    I think that there are so many ways to raise your children these days (look at the fact that there's all these names for them), so you can do whatever you want. It only matters what you and O want to do! Think of it like religion and politics. If you're open and accepting to other people's views on these personal matters, but confident in your own beliefs, MOST people, but especially the people that you care about, will accept and SUPPORT you following your own beliefs and decisions. If they don't agree, tough shiz.

    The great thing about becoming a parent, is that I think it caused me to care less about what others thought. It's tough at times, but it's also really amazing and fun. xoxo, Mariss

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    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment Marissa! I know that my mom will also want to be with us for a while, and her help will be so wonderful to have. Plus she is a blast and I love having her around so double bonus! I like your idea of doing something for yourself daily, super! Thanks again for your advice, I appreciate it!

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  4. First of all, how exciting for you! Second, you're a fun, quirky, interesting person so you'll be a fun, quirky, interesting mom. End of story. Third, your children sort of guide you. Motherhood for women who have compliant children who don't walk until they are 16 months old and take 3-hour naps (a friend of mine) is different than motherhood for women who have boundary-pushing children who walk at 10 months and don't nap (I'm still recovering). Don't plan too much. You will be surprised and delighted in ways you can't imagine. So so so so so excited for you as you begin this journey!

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    1. You are so right! You never know what kind of child you will have, or how it will be like to respond to that as a mother. I am kind of delighted and scared shitless of that :)

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  5. You will be such an awesome mom!! I couldn't agree more with the feeling like you have to blend in! I've struggled with that. I am guilty for judging those moms that are overly prepared, lugging around and buying everything their baby couldn't possibly need. Or when someone gifts me an overly cutesy monogrammed baby jon jon--I just have to smile and put it far away!! (Gosh I sound terrible!) haha- But I've realized that we are all moms and we may have different taste or parenting styles but we are all can relate to the same worries, joys, and sleepless nights! I think the best part is how much you will learn from them. My son has taught me confidence in being different. I see how happy and healthy he is and I know that my decisions, although different from the norm sometimes, they were my decisions and I didn't do something just to blend in. I won't lie, my life has changed but I can't imagine it any other way! You will learn what works best for you and your family :)

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    1. Yay for not blending in! You don't sound terrible to me at all. I am sure it will happen to me too, but isn't it wonderful to have people in your life who give you gifts for your sweet baby! I will try to focus on that thought when I don't put a winnie the poo shirt on my baby :)

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  6. Dude, the wonderful news is that there are tribes upon tribes upon tribes of moms that will embrace whatever brand of crazy you choose to bless your child with. ;) I have found so many kindred spirits since I had kids. People I never would have known otherwise because, like you, I kind of assumed that all moms lived in pastel bubbles of perfection and secret sadness. Thankfully, I haven't felt that to be true. There's a lot more discussion, a lot more quirkiness, a lot more comfort to the whole operation than I imagined there would be. However weird you get, there always seems to be someone nearby who is getting even weirder (in a good way)! I have also run into some Judgey Judgersons but you find a way to politely scoot away from them when they show up at the park and it works out. The only advice I would give is don't make any calls just yet. I was 100% determined and told everyone who would listen, "No plastic! No batteries!" before my kids were born. I would totally hide away any tacky primary-colored gifts that people sent to us. But the first time your little beast's face lights up with glee over an ugly noisy stupid toy that she dragged out of the pile you were planning to chuck at Goodwill you might honestly find your will too crushed to enforce your own rules. It sounds crazy but it happened to me, I speak from the bottom of my melted heart. With one singing Barbie car, my carefully curated playroom plans were smashed to smithereens. That's part of the magic, I think, of unconditional love. (Plus, when someone cool comes to visit you can just stuff that crap under the couch and pretend your super-sophisticated baby happily plays with hand-painted, Waldorf-approved, faceless wooden dolls for hours and hours and hours.) So keep an open mind and remember that 1) we (moms) are mostly all in it together, we all love our darn kids so much that it almost sucks, 2) sometimes that mom with the puke on her shoulder and the ugly diaper bag might be super hip on the inside, so at least give her a chance to prove you wrong, and 3) ain't no shame in a Publix white cake every now and then.

    I am so excited for you guys. I can't wait to hear more about your adventures through the Mama Jungle.

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    1. ahaha! You are so right! You never know how cool a person is, and you can't judge a mommy by her diaper bag :) I can't wait to meet the gaggles of crazy (in a good way ) moms out there! My sister also said no pink! She laughs now when I say "no pink" its hilarious to her. Yeah right, she says. I know that she is right too. Here is to letting go of pre conceived notions and just going for it :)

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  7. This post made me so happy. I am the mother of 2 adopted children, now young adults. This journey will be like no other and you will love every minute of it.

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  8. What a lovely post and best wishes for the journey ahead. I was really surprised at how I mothered more from intuition than I would have guessed. I'm an academic and I guess I supposed I would think and research and collect anecdotes etc. and parent from a thinking place. Nope. Didn't happen. I lean on other mamas, but for the most part I have preferred to follow my gut and feel it out. Just kinda learn and go and feel and process from moment to moment. It's not my personality at all (in my demanding career), but it feels right to me as a mama. My Maxwell just turned 1. It was a longer journey for us (multiple miscarriages), but we feel like our little man found us and we are a family now. Your journey is beautiful. It's real and it's yours and O's. How lovely.

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  9. Hi, I come from Instagram, emikovenlet, the gratitude note lady. Hi!
    I was thinking all day today what I would say in my comment on your blog. Many things ran in my head, my pre-motherhood thoughts, post-preggy thoughts, all my experiences as a mom of two busy boys, all the lessons I learned so far.. I have to say, you know, I am not the greatest mom to give you any advice. I am still searching and seeking and looking for advice and support, still being confused, puzzled, but totally loving the motherhood. What I learned is probably this; one can never be prepared enough to be a mom. You figure things out on the way. Motherhood is a journey that starts the moment you want a baby, whether you have doubt or not! So, welcome to the motherhood!!

    There are lots of moments I day dream what if's... What would I do if I didn't have children? Would I be painting more to make a real career out of it? Would I be going out every friday night? Would I be travelling with my husband? Would I .. would i?? The answer to all the bubbling questions in my day dreaming is always this; I would not want my life any other way. I can't imagine not meeting my children and not having them as my children in my life. So.. what I am trying to say is.... you will never regret deciding to be a mom and having a child. There are hard days, yes. There are devastating days, perphaps. There are days you want to just quit? probably. But there never are days when you would want other life than this. Period.

    So what am I trying to say again? You are going to be a wonderful mom. It doesn't start the day 1 but you are going to have an amazing journey called motherhood. It's different, but it's darn good!! Congratulations on your start! And it feels strange to say this, but as an instagram follower and a fan of your work, I am very very happy for you!

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  10. This is a wonderful post. You will be an awesome mom! Good luck with this journey. :) I am not a mother yet, but it is definitely something that I want in my future. It is very scary to know when to start on that path. I love the idea of incorporating the baby into my life though.

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  11. I was always told growing up that, "once you have kids, your life is over." I despised it and knew I'd prove it wrong one day. The truth is, it was just an excuse to hide behind.

    It's completely up to you! :) It all depends on how you look at things, and we always have a choice. Yes, things change, but everything's always changing anyway. I have a five year old and a one year old, and it feels like life burst into millions of new colors when they arrived!

    We've already had so many amazing adventures together, and we're always planning new ones. One of my favorite things is sharing the stuff I love (books, music, art, traveling) with my kids. Seeing your little one experience adventures that you've already had will feel like you're experiencing them for the first time all over again. It's amazing :)

    I've found that motherhood has opened up my life more than I could have imagined. Every mother is different, as is every family and every child. After two years of unplanned co-sleeping with our first son, I swore I wasn't going to have the second one in our bed. I would train him from the beginning to sleep in his own bed, and I would be tough. Ha! Three days after he was born, I'd gotten a total of 6 hours of sleep because he would not sleep anywhere but my arms. I was at the end of my rope and finally caved. He slept in our bed for a year, and finally, everyone was able to sleep. I didn't want a baby swing either, but my first son had colic, and we desperately needed somewhere to put him down. When my dad and step-mom showed up with a Fisher Price baby swing, we had that thing set up in the middle of the living room faster than I could crack open a Corona.

    My best advice is to do what works for you and your family (be flexible- it's always changing!), and be gentle with yourself. It's so easy to get absorbed in guilt as a mother, wondering if you're doing the right/best thing. Sometimes you will and sometimes you won't. It's a life-long learning process, and it's beautiful and terrifying at the same time.

    As for the moms who are judgey, they're most likely the ones who are hardest on themselves and need the most love.

    I'm so excited for you and O! Congratulations on starting the process. I can't wait to read more about your adventures as you are able (or choose) to share. Best of luck on the adoption journey! xoxo

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  12. I have 2 children. My first is biological and my second after trying to get pregnant again for years with, various interventions, was adopted 11 years later. Having had children both ways I can honestly say that I love them in equal amounts, worry about them in equal amounts, get driven crazy by them in equal amounts and am proud of them in equal amounts. They both have their own issues and are both unique and wonderful people. I learn from them both in different ways about different things. They are my children-it doesn't matter if I birthed them or not. Adoption can be a long process-requiring patience. The difference from infertility treatments though is that in the end you always have a child. Keep this in mind if you get discouraged. Best of luck on your new adventure!

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  13. Best thing abt kids is how cute they are and make me laugh worst is when they are upset or unhappy. I feel responsible for their happiness. Had my 2 boys at ages 34 and 40. I was soooo ready. I am high energy but some days are really hard you have to love them and that is all that reqlly matters. I thought is would be a lot easier, less lonely. I cd use a bigger better support system.

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  14. You find your "people" - other moms/parents that you're comfortable with. There are definitely times of feeling judged, but that happens with me with or without kids! All the baggage we carry doesn't automatically go away, but most of the time it feels less important because you're too busy to think about it anymore!

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  15. This is such an interesting, thought-provoking, honest post, Michelle. I really appreciate your openness.

    It's interesting that you described your vision of motherhood the way that you did, because in my very formative years, I thought marriage would look that way--not specifically motherhood. I thought marriage meant a loss of individuality for a woman but...obviously, that's changed because I'm very happily married to someone I'd describe as a feminist whose embraced my personality and quirks. Because he's like that, I'm not hung up on worries that I'll feel pressure to become Holly Homemaker when I do get pregnant.

    To the point of what motherhood looks like, I've sort of seen a shift in what modern motherhood looks like (secondhand, of course...I'm not a mom). More of the pregnant women I've seen are requesting gender neutral baby things, are considering alternative birthing plans (vs. hospitals) and are developing new plans for balancing work and motherhood.

    All of this is to say that I think you will make a wonderful mother. You are thoughtful, interesting and you want to think critically about what it means to be a mother, a woman, an artist and a person--that makes for a rich environment for any child. This child--whoever he or she may be--will be inarguably changed by having you as a mom.

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  16. Just wanted to say thanks for your openness and sharing your news with your readers, and your thoughts and fears. I'm sure you'll be a great mom!

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Yay! Your gonna reach out to me! I am so excited. I have tried to make commenting here easy for both of us. So please try your hardest to read the squiggly letters so I can chat with you.

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