Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New Beginnings

I have a perfect, amazing new daughter. She is beautiful, and I'm not just saying this. Everyone says this.

Really. She's freakin' adorable.

That said, I have been left with something of the impression that my culture expects me to cease being the interesting, grown-ass woman I was before she came into my life. Suddenly a surprising number of my conversations (and not just those with my spouse or the Bug's doctor) are about the poop of another being. Random strangers feel as though it is their absolute right to offer unsolicited advice as to how to parent. Our culture seems to grade parents based on the completeness with which they submerge their identities into that of their children. By this argument, I am no longer "Jess" or at least Jess is unimportant. I am merely the Bug's mama. Her success is the only sort of success I should be concerned about.

Yes, having a child shifted my priorities. Absolutely. But I am also still a grown woman with my own interests and goals that do not involve poop.

I have a unique parenting philosophy, one that I personally think is healthier than this "your child is the fulfilment of your destiny, so don't be concerned with your own goals, just support your child" thing. It is this: be the best parent you can be by being the most well-rounded person possible. I love my daughter, and I want her to know it. I plan on telling her often (indeed, I already do, although she won’t be acquiring language for a few months now), and showing her every chance I get. But because I love her, I want her to grow up to be an awesome adult. Part of what I think will allow her to be an awesome adult is seeing her parents be, themselves, awesome, well-rounded adults. Part of that means that we will have social lives independent of her. In my case, it means I will continue to pursue my career goals, even though I am at the very early stages of that career. (I’m not against, IN ANY WAY, stay at home mothers. It just isn’t the life for me.)

My first goal with this blog, then, is to attempt to chronicle how I maintain the balance between devotion to her and having my own life. At first, it will be hard; She sleeps in 3 hour increments, which means I sleep in 2 hour parcels. Drooling on the self doesn’t go over well in public, nor does falling asleep while socializing. Currently, I am her only food source, and so can only be away from her for an hour or so without things getting dicey. But I’m on a year long maternal leave from my job (hail academia!) and I assume that as this year progresses, I will find some semblance of balance. In my head, it is something between Cameron from Modern Family, Betty Draper, and my own mom, who managed to raise me while working, having friends, and being fun. My second goal is to find the humour in my peers, and share my observations with my tens of fans.

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