Thursday, May 7, 2009

meditation: mombies

I'm feeling philosophical this morning, perhaps because I slept in loopy 45 minute bursts as punishment for trying to sneak a square of Lindt Intense Mint Dark Chocolate last night before bed. Alas, a baby's gut can't be fooled. Most of my dreams involved being the skull-headed, hot, dead, Aztec chick from Robinson Crusoe and running into things because I was a skull and didn't have eyes. Too cruel.

In any case, I followed a blogpath this morning that took me from yo-yo abandonado by friend and follower katiri to this blog by ChicagoSane. Warning: both blogs offer some mature content, including the dreaded P and C words, which doesn't bother me, because I curse like a sailor when little pitchers with big ears and bigger mouths aren't around.

Now, most of the blogs I follow are admittedly for mothers, by mothers. It's so easy to get caught in the loop of "this is what I do, ergo, this is what I am". We grow so accustomed to hiding behind big bellies and adorable babies that we forget that other people actually see *us*, and sometimes we forget to see ourselves. I find it refreshing and surreal to read the thoughts of people on the prowl in a world where sunglasses and hairstyles and freshness of underpants are sincere considerations.

It's like studying pictures of tribes who find porcupine quills through the cheeks attractive. As in, "I know people do that, but HOW? and WHY? and OUCH!"

I have no idea what I would do, were I single and looking for love. I don't know how people in their thirties actually meet viable, long-term partners. I'm guessing a terrifying combination of church, work, Facebook, eHarmony, Sunday morning bookstore-ing, and ritualistically sacrificing black chickens in supplication.

In my world, women publicly judge eachother on a wide range of variables from coolness of diaper bags to Transformer-ness of high-tech strollers to cuteness of organic cloth diapers. Men generally don't see us, as we have small children attached to us, and there is very little as sexually repellant to men as small children. Children judge us on the probability that we will produce snacks from our gigantic purses.

And I want to rebel. I don't want to be judged by any of these criteria. I want to be seen as a unique and passionate individual who just so happens to have children. And yet sometimes, I find myself venturing out, covered in all the wrong bodily fluids, wearing hideous shoes and jeans that don't fit, throwing my dirty hair into a bun and trying to mentally block out the fact that I am still being judged every second, quietly, by *someone*. And that someone does not know that I keep a blog, that I have an art studio in my living room, that I can bellydance, that Baudelaire is still my favorite poet, even if i've outgrown the melancholy. That I'm a freakin' unique snowflake!

Part of being a mom is giving up the chance to be known deeply. No one asks probing questions on first dates or calls you "just to talk". When we speak to eachother as our children eat paste off the floor, we ask questions like, "What did you want to do when you went to school?" or "What did you do for fun before kids?" Even our own phraseology admits that we've given up the vibrant parts of our personalities, and that's an enormous tragedy.

They say that marriage takes work, that each partner should give 100%, not just 50%. I believe that's true, and so does my husband, and we are ridiculously happy. Obviously mothering takes 100% dedication. But I think that being a person, a self-aware and constantly growing person, also takes 100%. People who put all their personality eggs in one mothering basket are going to go without delicious omeletts, and I see a lot of omelett-hungry women out there. You have to refill your cup, whatever it is you want in your cup.

If you don't work a muscle, it atrophies. If you don't work on marriage, it sours, and you grow apart. If you don't work on mothering, your kids will go wild and live in trees. Like marmosets. And, in my opinion, if you don't work on *yourself*, no matter who you are, you become a zombie. And if you become a zombie, I will one day hunt you down on a Vespa with a rifle while wearing some really kickass boots.

Okay, maybe not the last part.

But still. Beware the mombies. Always fight the mombies.

I am now going to go wash my hair and find a belt.

Tonight: Pet Parade. Promise.


Virginia Valerie said...


I hope to be as cool as you, some far off distant day when I become a mom.

Thanks for keepin it real.

bibliophiliac said...

Great post. It is very thought provoking, especially for a 30-year-old never married gal with no kids. I have tons of hobbies and passions and interests and goals and dreams that I am pursuing. I struggle with singleness yet appreciate my independence. I don't care much for first dates but love the deep conversation that develops as I get to know a man. . . though I skeptically wonder if it will ever develop into true and deep and lasting intimacy like you have in a great marriage. It's interesting to read about the perspective that your pink child-sized sunglasses give you. It's very interesting to hear your take on how men percieve you as a mom of small children.

ChicagoSane said...


Thanks for the link. For your info, I was married but it was as a favor for my best friend. We tried making it serious but that ended up in tragedy for both of us (lost years).

As it is, I also do church and am VERY active in a very large church community. I am also very open about my opinion on dating, sex, marriage, etc (to the point that I've been asked not to talk about certain topics with congregational members).

Dating doesn't suck, it's wonderful. Some day I do hope to find a partner for the long haul, but I'm a tough nut to crack, and I come from a very odd family (parents divorced, but are best friends since and hang out with their new spouses together all the time). My broken home was a fixed home, really.

Anyway, thanks also for warning your readers about the link. As bizarre as it sounds, I'm definitely into parenting blogs (I babysit for my best friend's two kids maybe twice a month), so I'll be following you.

Glad I could offer insight, albeit maybe not appropriate all the time, to you and anyone who clicks through.

I'm contemplating dropping the P and C words, but that's what I use, that's what my friends use, that's what my lovers use, so the vernacular is appropriate for my discussion.

resolute twig said...

I also really really enjoyed your post. I am an (almost) 29 year old married woman with no kids, who desperately wants them. And its interesting that I think I feel many of the things you do, just related to other things. And it all reminds me that it is basically impossible to understand or know what another person’s life is really like, and that even if we magically get all the things we really want we will still not be taken away to some fairy tale land full of nothing but happiness and sunshine ( I think sometimes I suspect that this is the case).
I too often feel very at risk of losing my favorite parts of who I am.
And you are right that it all takes lots of work.
But at least I really hope that it’s all worth it in the end.

Tammy Howard said...

I am in a very different place than you - older, kids older, midlife crisis sort of stuff - and yet I could relate to every word of this. I find that comforting somehow. Disturbing at the same time, of course. The stereotypes that exist for each stage of our lives and how we sort of dumbly play into them - mombies (hee!). Thanks for shaking me up a little bit.

EttyOop said...

This post was awesome and true and I enjoyed reading it, even as I was nodding at the bit about not being seen as a person.

I think that even my husband sometimes sees me as "MOMMY" instead of "That insanely hot chick I was lucky enough to marry"... Part of that could be the lack of miniskirts (hello, thighs that haven't gone down yet from pregnancy), sexy tops (um... nursing bras anyone?), and that confident swagger (yeah, hard to swagger when you haven't had a decent stretch of sleep in, like, 15 months....). BUT you are absolutely right. Just because one is a mommy, that doesn't mean you shouldn't work on your marriage 100% (and we do try), and on yourself 100% as well.

anyway, to get past my rambling...

yeah, good post.... thanks :)

charissimo said...


Anonymous said...

Wow. :-) I lived in and have since passed through my Mombie days. I wish I had had your blog to read then. Might have helped. Or not. Maybe I just had to get through it. I seriously enjoy your blogs and I love looking at my little belly painting everyday from your art giveaway. Thanks so much! The cupcake shirt will be mine very soon. Truer words have never been spoken.

Lynn said...

Wow, that was bang on. I'm smack in the middle of mombie-ness right now, came to it late, and it feels weird to me every day, since I had 38 years of being Me before I became Their Mother. I've recently realized that I am not the same person that I was, and am now trying to figure out who it is that I've become.
You have your art studio in your living room? I think I'm feeling inspired by that. Do your children eat your art supplies or anything? My kids have stolen and lost every paintbrush I had.
Anyway, I'm glad I found your blog through The Momplex. You rock.

delilah said...

Lynn, my studio is actually the "formal living room" in our house. I used it frequently before #2 was born, but now it's pretty hard to get in there. It is strictly verboten to children, thanks to oil pants, turps, needles, scissors, marbles, and other death magnets.

But just knowing it's there, lying fallow, makes me look forward to the next great ripening, you know?

Lynn said...

The next great ripening! I like that. That is the reason I have my easel set up by my bed, so I can look at it every morning and every night and think that one day I will use it again. If I put it away I'm afraid it'll stay in the closet forever!

delilah said...

Ha ha! I have oil pants! Ees fun on slip-und-slide!

Jenny Penny said...

I just needed the word: Mombie. Thanks for that. I will keep that on file in my head, and point it out to myself when I catch myself becoming one. Which does happen. My oldest is five, and my second was born when she was almost four. There was a stretch there where I got a glimpse of what lies beyond Mombie, and I hope that glimpse keeps me from becoming the walking dead again. Wanna hear a cute story about my 9-month-old's poop? Just kidding.

stinestrain said...

i'll be the lone voice of dissent (are you shocked? I bet you're not)

I don't think I've given up the vibrant parts of my personality. I think I'm actually far more vibrant as a mom than I ever was as an angry, angst-filled office peon...

I do think it's important not to lose your identity to mommyhood, but I also totally believe that balance is possible, that I can be (and am!) a smart, vibrant, interesting, sexy, amazing singer, knitter, chef, volunteer, advocate, friend and person. and mommy :)

delilah said...

stine, I would never have lumped you with the mombies. You have passions, from volunteer work to crafts; you're constantly learning and arguing and growing as a person. I'm not saying that motherhood diminishes us in any way, i'm saying that we can't get to a point where we're nothing but moms, and we talk about nothing but our children.

So were you dissenting against the concept, or being defensive of your own unmombieness? ;)

stinestrain said...

I was dissenting against this:

"Part of being a mom is giving up the chance to be known deeply. No one asks probing questions on first dates or calls you "just to talk". When we speak to each other as our children eat paste off the floor, we ask questions like, "What did you want to do when you went to school?" or "What did you do for fun before kids?" Even our own phraseology admits that we've given up the vibrant parts of our personalities, and that's an enormous tragedy."

But you know me and how I get about sweeping generalizations ;)

Caroline D. said...

yes. and yes. and another yes.

now, I'm off to look at the P and C posts. You can always get me with excessive swearing. It's my thing.