so yesterday, i wrote a bit about identity. and sometime in between yesterday and today, i read that one of my favorite podcasts was mentioned as a must listen for parents. it’s called the longest shortest time and it’s great.
and there were two others- one from slate, who has great podcasts. so i download it, and listened to the most recent episode while walking around town with Beatrice. (gotta get that outside the house time in before ANOTHER snow storm!) and the conversation was centering around structure and activity for kids, as well as how to teach them to have good self esteem and be happy. and one of the commentators suggested that our parents were perhaps, not so concerned with making that happen for us. that they wanted to make sure the house was clean, dinner was made, and left us (mostly) to our own devices. or that they were a part of the parent’s world. not the other way around.
and there was something about listening to a parenting podcast while trying to navigate my stroller around the less than fully cleared sidewalks, that caused me to nearly break out into tears or laughter. (maybe both.)
i am living parenthood. why am i overwhelming myself with listening to podcasts about parenthood?! i should be listening to other things- the podcasts i love that aren’t about babies and families, and the cult of motherhood. how about terry gross? or radiolab. i only have so much free-ish time to indulge in my interests. why am i going down the rabbit hole of identity based interests?
it was actually a liberating moment. i don’t need to listen to all things parenthood related. i can, sure, but what will make me a better parent, and probably more important: a well rounded member of society in pursuing my interests, whatever they might be. and not losing sight of myself in this new role. exploring those parts, yes- but still cultivating the ones that have been around a lot longer.
When we moved from New York to Boston a few years ago, McSweeny’s slipped a little card into our next magazine, “How to Make Friends in a New City”. Which if you are an adult and have moved to a new city, you know isn’t always the the easiest thing. (I’m now noticing this was written by Shelia Heti, and I loved her book. But I digress…)
For the first time in my adult life, I’m not working. Or rather, if you want to be political, not working for money outside the home. I had a baby (we had a baby), so I am taking leave to care for her in these first months of her life. And while there are moments that are wonderful about being home with her, it’s also lonely and isolating. Especially given that it’s winter out. I’ve been attending a new parent’s support group, which has been very helpful and rewarding. It’s strange to be meeting people, and trying to make friends (which is like dating) with other people, or women, who know me first and foremost as a mom. That’s what we have in common. Not as a runner, or a librarian, or as a neighbor. But, motherhood is the commonality. And the process of making friends, in any circumstance is a time consuming one. One must exchange phone numbers, try to get together, do the tentative dance of do we like each other, do our kids like each other, would we be friends if we didn’t have children?
Identity is a tricky dynamic thing. I’ve had Beatrice in my life for the past seven weeks and that makes sense. Here is this little (adorable) person in our lives. Though I’m still negotiating the outward identity of mom. It’s bizarre- when I really just feel like myself with this new person. I suppose it’s not the first hat I would put on when trying to meet people. But, in order to meet new people, I must. And if early motherhood wasn’t already an intense period of vulnerability as you adapt to the new person in your life, changes in your body postpartum, changes in your relationship with your partner- there is the desire to have a community of people who are experiencing the same shift. And it requires another level of vulnerability. I suppose this may be one of the easiest times to make friends, as I imagine there are countless other women right around the corner from me who feel the same. It’s helpful to remember that I’m not alone in my vulnerability and desire to make new friends. And it will come with time. I also wonder if it may be easier to make those friends at this point, when we are all experiencing something new in our identity and relationships. Perhaps we’ll be more gentle with ourselves and others,
so beatrice is napping, which means i have about 45 minutes to an hour to do something.
So I think I have finally accepted that I need to start asking the people who attend our library programs if they are visiting the library for the first time. Then I can figure out if our programs are actually bringing in new people or if it’s the same library superfans.
Can anyone think of a way…
no. i usually do the hand raise thing when doing an intro, and say thanks so much for joining us tonight- so happy to have you, and welcome the regulars as well (who i am so happy to have as well!).
i usually linger by the exit at the end of the program and thank people for coming. if i don’t recognize them, i’ll ask how they heard about the program, if they are here for the first time, etc etc.
how would the bead thing work? like a little jar/sign on the way in?
(also, i miss working!)
these up close images of tears are amazing- they look like landscapes.