Wednesday, January 11, 2012

socially awkward butterfly

last weekend i drove two hours to attend a surprise party for a friend i've known since junior high.  strapped the baby to my chest when i got there and stood, rocking, talking to people i hadn't seen in years. people who got babysitters for their kids and who weren't nursing. i felt misshapen, stretched out. i couldn't remember how to have a conversation that didn't include talking about children. yet i cursed like a sailor and waved the sarcastic banter flag because i felt awkward and postpartum wearing my one pair of jeans that fit. the baby's flailing arm connected with a friend's glass of wine and left her soaked and it wasn't funny like when you're young and drunk and stumbling. i was the lady with the baby at the party knocking over drinks. i didn't stay very long.

driving home, i was struck by something. it wasn't melancholy. it wasn't regret. it was something liquid, metallic. it shined and it smudged and lay on the passenger seat the entire two hours home.
and the thing is this:
i haven't yet reconciled being a mother and being me.
i mean, i know how to be myself around my kids. and i have never been more myself in a relationship while still having room to change and grow. and yet. i'm a bit in flux, i think. as a person. my body is somewhat hijacked because bearing children is amazing, yes. but it is also somewhat traumatic. it takes time to recognize yourself. i never quite got there after finn and then i got pregnant again. i didn't last this long nursing with finn. this time around, it's amazing and beautiful and awesome and yet i feel in limbo. like my body is on loan and i've never been a fan of living out of boxes.
this unsettled feeling is strangely comforting and humbling and i'm not sure how to wear my newly stretched out skin just yet. i'm not sure what i will look like when this is all over and i am at a point in my biological timeline where my skin and my hair and my nails need to be tended to. not expected to take care of themselves anymore.
i document the tiny moments in my life and i lose friends on facebook because all i post pictures of is my kids. but i can't help it.
right now? my life?
this is what i DO.
THIS is who i am.
there is more to me than the things my children say and clogged milk ducts and grey hairs. but the more is somehow less than. at least for right now.
i can't help it.
so, if you happen to see me out. at a party. somewhere.
i apologize if you ask me how i am and i tell you a story about my kids.
this is what i DO.
THIS is who i am.


  1. relish the moments of your awkward self as these are the times that come only once with our children

  2. *i'm posting this for my lovely friend, erin.*

    gerddammit! i can't comment on blogger. it's driving me nuts. but this is important, or at least, so it feels to me.

    can you post this comment for me?

    you write this, i haven't yet reconciled being a mother and being me. krista, this will be central to your life's work now. i had no idea that this would happen but this is becoming a parent and we never graduate from this school. never. it is a dialectic born because we are conscientious and loving, awake people. i suppose if we popped out babies and continued to shine our nails without thought, we might have a chance beyond the eternal dialogue, but who wants that? it is our steady job in life to determine who we are. once we are entwined with these small people, it is a deeper and more profound question. and always the answer is - you must just allow yourself to be you. but that just is huge. that just allow yourself, is work.

    always i return to this quote by gerard manley hopkins, “What I do is me, for that I came.” in and through your experience with your children you will discover an evolving you which is radiant, strong, and yes, even faulty. through your experience with them.
    have you ever read Sharon Olds? she writes a great deal about her daughter and their relationship. she is new to me in many regards and so i can't recommend anything specifically. i can only point you to her earlier poems.
    your children are gorgeous. your husband and you, you are gorgeous. to look at, yes, but so much more than this. you make me happy about this world.


  3. I'm perfectly in sync with Erin this time! I was a scoundrel, a pursuer of men and "deep" ideas and 90% emptiness prior to my daughter's birth but I did not know that until. For me it is no casual event, it was the beginning of my life in 3D and I choose it wholeheartedly tho I had no idea what it would be beforehand. That being said - I was adrift for several years in relation to my previous self - it felt disintegrating in many ways - but slowly I came to a place that felt recognizable (about 3 years for me).
    Hugs and more about your kids Krista! Love the photos! Come by Shutter Sisters please!

  4. yes, sharon olds is amazing. i'm still kicking myself for not seeing her read for FREE in central park a couple years back...hoping that i'll have an oppty again some day.

    i'm with you krista, i've had a very hard time reconciling me as a mama with the me, that i am when i'm not mothering. like your friend erin said, this is how it is now, this is who we are...i think it's because i've written my story for so long and it didn't include this, even though this is the best thing that's ever happened to me.

    i'm not offering anything here, except to say that i see you and honor your words and hold them close because it makes me feel less alone when i'm faced with mothers who don't seem to feel the way i do. xo

  5. I get it and I understand - and it won't change, even when your children are grown and having children of their own. I talk about my grandchildren constantly - whenever someone walks by my desk, I stop them and show them new pictures you've posted - they may think I'm weird or obnoxious or boring but it's who I am and they have to get over it.

    No matter the shape of your body - you've always been more comfortable in your skin than I am - I still look in the mirror and see a fat person - and I feel "blobby" except when I was on the liquid diet. Enuf about me - your family is your life, your job and your existence. Others may speak about their trips, hair salons, shopping for clothes, but none of that is permanent or has substance like children do. Plus every day with children is a new adventure - so please continue sharing with us - we love being in your world.

    And I'm going to check out Sharon Olds and see what she has to say......
    xxoo Mom

  6. I believe what happens with children is this: before their arrival we only knew a different version of who we were; after we learn that previous version wasn't all there was to us. Children open us up to so many different versions of who we are, who we become, how we interact with the world. For a time we're given back a semblance of innocence that arrives with them.

    Does this mean Krista is now only this? Oh dear sweet heart your only glimpsing the possibilities of who Krista is. Enjoy this Krista now, in a few years another version of you will arrive and you'll embrace her heartily and smile as she joins the army of you.

    Yes, I know I've used arrive (arrival) many times through these few paragraphs; because it's a celebration of each part of you that arrives through experience, wisdom, love, even mistakes and hurt. Never apologize for whichever Krista is in residence, only allow her(yourself) to celebrate all of you. (Hugs)Indigo

  7. yes, you are a mother - there is no turning back. This is a good thing, a very good thing!

  8. I understand this so much (and I've also been the mom with the baby at the party -- or the bar -- and later regretted it but it was either that or I didn't go at all.) I think in those times what I wanted most was mercy and grace and all I remember is that I didn't feel it. My safe place is in my home with my children. They are my life, and in each of them I find more of myself, always. My youngest is 3 and it's only recently that I feel like I've finally started rounding the corner.


  9. Ok, so I had to come back. I hope this isn't weird but I was just watching the movie Beginners and heard this excerpt from the Velveteen Rabbit...

    The stuffed rabbit asked, "what is real?" And the rabbit asked, "does it hurt?" And the horse said sometimes. "Does it happen all at once?" It takes a long time. Generally by the time you are real most of your hair has been loved off, your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints. But these things don't matter because you are real. You can't be ugly except to people who don't understand.


  10. I remember feeling just the way you've described. And, as you've figured out, it's OK. It won't last forever, so seize it now.

    (Your pictures, and your children, are beautiful.)

  11. This post. This post. I've come back and read it over and over and started so many comments but have just not been able to express the beauty of it.
    You nailed it girl. Nailed it to the wall.
    I've read it over and over and I've cried every time.
    Thank you.

  12. ah yes, this is it. you said it xx

  13. Brilliantly said for moms everywhere! Thank you

  14. How awesome when you see your life and feelings words...that are not your own, but speaks for you. Thanks kathryn for directing me and thanks krista for capturing my moment. I too have been struggling with this metamorphosis. Your words make me feel less alone and understood. My youngest is 5months old and her brother 2and a i have just turnrd the bend at 40 and wondering what the next phase will bring.

  15. I think you are brave and wonderful. I've been so afraid of becoming a me that is another version of the one I know, that I've postponed it...put it on hold. On hold to the point that I find it is "go time"..."now or never" time, and I don't know which to choose.
    P.S. If your baby's flailing arm spilled wine all over me at a party, I'd borrow a t shirt from the host/hostess, and then ask you if I could hold your baby for a while so you could hold a glass of wine. :)

  16. I love Steph bringing the Velveteen Rabbit into this. xo

    Also, like Steph, with my youngest being 3, it has only been in the last few months that I feel like I've rounded that corner into a new phase, out of the phase where everything I do and all that I am is mother to little bitty kids.

    And you know what? As much as I love this new phase and the fact that I'm wearing really cute nail polish, I miss that last phase already.


use your kind words.