Saturday, 19 March 2011

Breaking the Archetype

I'm going through something, dear readers.  I don't know what it is but if I could draw a picture of myself, it would be like suddenly noticing that I'm developing another limb that has superpowers.  Oh yeah, and I had another birthday.  Birthdays always seem to root out the revolution in me.

This week, my dear friend K lost her husband who was just 44 years old, sudden heart attack brought on, probably, by the stress of trying to recover from a serious fracture incurred during a ski accident 2 weeks earlier.  Totally freakish.  17 years of marriage over in an instant.  At first I just watched her in shock at the threshold of grieving, and she was just so beautiful oscillating between emotions.  And part of me is envious because she gets to start over and recreate herself all over again.  The same way that I'm envious of Libya and Egypt. It's going to take such work to get through this period of time, but I fundamentally believe that K and Libya and Egypt will morph into something better.

I feel like I've spent the last decade devoting myself to procreation, which has literally sapped my energy to the core.  I said out loud that I regret the whole thing.  Of course, I turn to my right and see my Max, who just gets more interesting and lovable every day, and immediately regret that.  A wise man, who I live with, pointed out (perhaps with a touch of envy himself) that I'm emerging from a whole decade of learning what it means to be a woman, that I have to try on the biology of motherhood, because my body dictates that.  I've learned that women can put themselves through hell and back trying to claim that identity.

I've never been one to play with dolls or dream of my wedding.  I do love to dabble in the domestic arts of sewing, scrapbooking, cooking, gardening and repainting the house.  I look lovely in dresses and lousy in jeans. I do hospital corners when I make the bed.  But the vacuum cleaner that resides in my home and I do not have a relationship.  I don't even think I've ever turned it on.    

A man, who I respect, asked politely how many children I have.  I told him one.  And there was a lingering look of questions then.  Whether it's paranoia or not, I think there's some truth that men (perhaps of a certain generation) expect that women will make children their priority.  As you know I've really really tried, but now I'm offended and I can't fully explain why.  How dare you assume that I want that for myself?  How dare you assume that I could have as many children as I want?  Why the hell are we talking about the status of my womb when I just want to talk about how your decisions are affecting my work environment?

A young woman on the radio called upon to represent her generation on International Woman's Day and she basically said that the day is now a misnomer.  That we don't need a women's day anymore because we're equal, it's a non-issue.  If we want to, we could just have a people's day.  It makes no difference if I tell her she's wrong because she's going to have to live through the next two decades of her life in order to understand how naive her statement is.  We are different, because our biology dictates that we are the child carriers and child bearers and the have that amount of energy go into pregnancy and childbirth and those first few months of symbiosis is uniquely feminine.

I miss it.

Is this what a mid-life crisis feels like?  I may be turning into a crone, because I've tried virgin, and mother and I'm not flexible enough to be a whore, and I don't think there are any more after that.  Somehow that is just not a satisfactory list of choices.  I wish I'd tried that whole doula thing while I had the chance.

So I'm breaking the motherhood archetype.  Don't ask me how, but I'm going to both be a fantastic parent, and a phenomenal educator.  I will politely decline the question next time I'm asked.

1 comment:

  1. There is another archetype, the wise woman/witch/fate/norn...

    Pretty good archetype!

    Hope this one sticks, my last, much more erudite and insightful post didn't!