a year ago
Remember the movie, Eat, Pray, Love?
Liz and her friends discuss words that best describe their current selves. I can’t remember Liz’s word, but growing up my word was shy.
I hate the word shy. With a burning passion.
Haitian adults loved to say, “Don’t be shy?’, only with their heavy accents, it sounded more like shine. Lol.
I wore the label around my shoulders, like a heavy jacket. I wore it all the time, even when it was breathtakingly warm and I could smell the must rising from my own body. Some days my fingers curled instinctively around the edges, pulling it closer to me like a blanket. It made me feel safe. It made me feel…comfortable.
This analogy may be a bit esoteric for some, but it was like the weighted vests Occupational therapists give to children for sensory issues. It makes them feel grounded.
I didn’t like being shy but having a label took responsibility away from me. For most of my adolescence, I sat on the sidelines watching everyone else and because I was “shy”, no one expected more of me.
And then, I discovered the word, introvert. Being an introvert freed me from that heavy, musty coat. I accepted I would never be the life of the party but I also realized I could say yes to things outside of my comfort zone.
I said yes to being Secretary and then President of the Black Student League in college. I said yes to working for a startup company. And I said yes to giving a lecture to a breast cancer support group. These yeses, although very uncomfortable, played a huge role in my growth as an individual.
And then I had a baby. It was like starting all over again.
Motherhood is challenging for a million reasons and one of them has been accepting my new word; mother.
I am fiercely private and I hate unwarranted attention. Being a mother puts all my insecurities on front street. There is no blending into the background with a baby because at any time they may spontaneously poop all over themselves (and you), cry uncontrollably and loudly, and spit up. And let’s not forget the daily shitshow of lugging a heavy ass stroller up and down a non-wheelchair accessible train station.
And guess what? Babies are adorable. All the attention focused on my son makes me uncomfortable and it forces social interaction with strangers.
Becoming a mother required me to come out of myself and re-evaluate all the security blankets I’ve used my entire life to survive. It meant learning how to make decisions for the good of someone else and not just for my own comfort.
It meant shedding the title “good daughter/wife/sister,” to stand up to loved ones who go against my wishes when it comes to my son like breastfeeding after three months.
Being a mother means putting away your own insecurities and fighting for survival. It means speaking up when strangers reach their germ encrusted fingers towards your baby’s face.
It means feeding your hungry baby, anywhere, at any time, amid the stares. Covered or uncovered, your choice.
It means asking for help when everything inside of you is programmed to do it alone by any means necessary.
My son doesn’t care if I’m an introvert/extrovert and although it’s not easy to ignore instinctual habits, I am embracing my new favorite word; mother.
And for him, I will do anything.