Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Who IS that?

So I was in my bedroom, and glanced up on my dresser, where I saw a photograph from a few years ago. The Little One was about 4 months old, so I was a new mama. It was one of our first photos as a new family, taken by my sister-in-law. It's an awesome photo. But. As I gazed at it tonight, my reaction was: who IS this woman? Because: I. did. not. recognize. myself.

No one can explain to you how becoming a mother will transform your very being. In my case, I truly became a different person. That's always true of us, as we age and acquire experience and (hopefully) wisdom. But there's something about the transformation of motherhood that is particularly profound, and it's something I'm still trying to comprehend. Because that photograph of me is so poignant and almost heartbreaking. I looked so YOUNG. I had endured those months of mothering a newborn, with all of the sleep deprivation and (in my case) postpartum crazy. But the experience hadn't altered me enough yet. It didn't show in the photograph. The only evidence of my transformation was the baby in my arms.

It happened to my husband too, for I hardly recognize him. He looks fresh and youthful in a way he hasn't in quite awhile (sorry hon!). I'm beginning to understand why it was so jarring to find photographs of my parents when they were first married and when my brother and I were first born. It was because we didn't quite recognize them. But we didn't understand why.

I've thought of changing the photograph in the frame on my dresser, as it doesn't represent who we are now, and I like to move forward rather than dwelling on the past. But I can't quite bring myself to do it. I'm not ready to let go of her yet. Not the baby that my daughter was, for there are far cuter photos of her from that period, and beyond. The person I'm not ready to put away just yet is the new mother that I was then. She was a person born out of the crucible of my experience of childbirth and the weeks that followed, which were sacred in their pain, terror, wonder, and discovery. She was someone I would very much like to go back to hug and reassure that it would all turn out alright. She is someone gone forever, yet still deep inside of me. And I don't want to forget.

8 comments:

IRISHKAT said...

I too love to hang on to the old photos, they are some of my favorites. Brief glimpses back in time.... and they always seem to make me smile.

Does Anybody Hear Me said...

I say the same thing when I see old pictures of myself with Mr. Big before the kiddos came along. I used to be kinda cute.
Now I look like and old, tired MOM!!

Blarney said...

Thanks for the kind words and dropping in my blog the other day!

followthatdog said...

I just came across a photo of me with my two boys when Little Dog was brand spanking new, a couple of weeks old. I look 20 years younger. Damn. I also have photos of me with my husband BP (before parenthood) so I understand this completely. But I also look at who I am now, how I deal with life, how my personality has changed, how much more joy and selflessness there is, and I wouldn't go back for all the tea in China...well, maybe for ALL of the tea in China.

Heather said...

BEAUTIFUL post. I think it's so important to look back and remember those early days of motherhood. I was always so caught up in just trying to learn how to be a mother that I forget so many little things.

followthatdog said...

Hey, I'm tagging you for a meme. go to my blog for the details

Melissa said...

I can so relate to what you mean. It's not just pictures, but even toys from when Michael (my first) was a baby. If I hear the music they play, it takes me back. Is that weird? Certain smells do the same thing. It was such a new and crazy time. I'm soooooooo not the same person I was then. Sometimes I wish I could go back, but then I realize time waits for no one!
Thanks for stopping by today!

Mekhismom said...

Well, I can totally relate to you. As a new mother I don't recognize myself either - probably because I still am carrying around the baby weight and the post baby weight! Who am I now and where is the real me?