M-kay. This is a repost of a blog I wrote last year. Or maybe the year before. And bizarrely enough - I started writing pretty much this exact same blog this morning in my head, while driving around for Girlio's carnap, in between points A, B and Z. Until I started to realize that my 'a-ha' moment had already been 'a-ha'ed. By me, no less. So, I'm reposting the original. (This is all either proof that 1. I'm apparently really not moving forward - or possibly in any other direction in my life, or 2. I was struck by the exact same clever thoughts twice because they're just so, like, insightful.)
Lately, I've been feeling like I totally get the middle-aged housewife running out and doing wild, wacked out, out of character things. Shoplifting, having an affair, becoming a raging alcoholic, whathaveyou. Now, just let me qualify before I even begin, I am about to embark on none of the above examples (Read: nobody get their knickers in a knot). But I think I undestand some of the desire behind the temptation of those actions. I think it's about passion. Lust for life and lust for oneself. (And I'm talking about more than sex here people, but sexiness and sexuality is part of it too.) I'm talking about attractiveness - both what makes us attractive to other people, but more importantly what makes us feel attractive ourselves. I'm talking about life - what makes us feel like we are fulfilled, and living up to our "potential" or making a difference in the world around us. It all boils down to passion. Passion for ourselves. Passion for and in the world.
Stay-at-home mom-ing has been an amazing journey in so many ways. But it can be isolating. Really isolating. And while most people get to see themselves reflected in the responses and actions from people around them in their day to day existences outside of the home: in the harmless office flirtations and crushes, in the work that they do, in the conversations and lunchdates with coworkers, in their performance reviews, etc. etc. - the stay-at-home parent does not have these same external reflections of self. Okay- so that's not exactly true. I see myself reflected in the eyes and faces and actions of my children. And I cherish those reflections (at least when they reflect the good mother moments!). But that reflection is always the same. Always mama. Always the domestic sphere.
And sometimes I feel like yelling: "I used to exist outside of these four walls!" I used to be able to see myself reflected in others, in the work that I did outside of these walls, in my academic writing and research, in my work at women's shelters, coordinating cross-Canada research projects, in flirtations (harmless and otherwise - and yes wifey, the latter is you!), and lunchdates and empassioned conversation with friends and coworkers. I used to have multiple identities. I used to have passions. I used to think about heady, exciting, academic stuff - outside of the house stuff (and yes, I am aware that I am a nerd. What of it? Nerdy girls are super h-o-t.). And so I've been realizing lately that I've begun to feel dulled. Filed down. Dowdy. Unempassioned. (If that isn't a word - it should be.) Disconnected. Not just from the world outside my four walls, but more importantly from a sense of being myself.
Awhile back I posted a review of the movie "Motherhood." And though the movie left a lot to be desired, there was a monologue that really resonated with me, in which Uma Thurman, as a stay-at-home mom, tried to explain to her husband the feeling I just described above:
It's just that every day from the second I wake up till the second I pass out cold, my day, like the day of almost every other mother I know, is made up of a series of concrete, specific actions. And they're actions that kind of wear away at passion, if you know what I mean. The actions are petty and small like... Like refilling coffee cups or folding underwear. But they accumulate in this really debilitating way that diminishes my ability to focus on almost anything else.
And I think, like Uma said (or rather like the sage screenplay writer said), I've been focussed for too long on those same repetitive concrete tasks that follow a singular path. The last three+ years of my life have been spent taking care of others, sometimes (oftentimes) to the detriment of my own needs, wants, desires, passion. To the point where I've actually started to feel, well, unattractive (and not just in the physical sense, although that too).
And if one's attractiveness is based (at least in part) from their engagement in the world around them, if I feel unengaged and disconnected from the larger world around me (because I'm plenty connected to my inner circle :-) - then I've begun to wonder with no small amount of trepidation - how do others see me? Has the way I've presented myself in the world changed? Was I more attractive when I was a smarty-pants grad student? Was my identity any less singular then than it is now?
And - if I have indeed lost my mojo, which I suppose is still up for debate, how do I go about getting it back?