Having a baby turns one’s life upside down so it is not surprising that sometimes all young parents speak about is their little one. I have to admit that I am more than guilty of this. That said, being a mom is and will not be all my self-definition is about. So why does the world suddenly want to define me first by my pregnancy and now by my baby? I first observed this in the birth preparation class that I was taking and it has haunted me ever since.
I was the first to introduce myself at the beginning of the class and my introduction went something like this: “Hi, my name is Ilze, I originally come from Latvia but for the past 6 years I have been living in Germany. I am currently doing my PhD studies in Bremen. I got married around a year ago and me and my husband are expecting our first child on the 17th March.”
I felt quite happy about this short intro, particularly as I always get a little nervous when speaking German in front of strangers. But, as the other ladies begun introducing themselves one by one, I started feeling more self conscious with each new speaker. Why? You see, none of them was sharing more personal information about themselves than their name. Everything else was about the pregnancy: the due date, if it is the first or the second, whether they have had any complications, so on and so forth.
I have seen this pattern repeat both in the baby class and in my post-pregnancy fitness course. Suddenly nobody is interested in me as a person anymore. It is all about the pregnancy, the birth, and the baby. Yes, of course, these are very important things in my life but they are not the full sum of my life.
Am I the only one who finds it strange to be in a room full women and their babies, knowing their names, birth dates, addresses and phone numbers, how much they sleep at night, or how their baby’s digestion is handling solids, but not really knowing anything about their life aside from the baby? The things you would usually share with people you meet – what you do for work or studies, your tastes, likes, or hobbies – have suddenly become secondary.
Maybe I really am the odd one out. So many moms use and abuse the words “we” and “our” when talking about their babies. We are teething! Our first step! Fast forward a few more years and it is: our first day of school!
Ahem, no. You are not going to hear such words coming out of my mouth. We are not teething. Birdy is. We may or may not be sleeping through the night, but that is just because she wakes me up if she is not sleeping. And why would my baby’s achievements to hold her head, roll, or crawl be something “ours”? She did it all by herself, through determination and non-stop practice, I am simply a proud bystander who enthusiastically cheers her on.
No, I am definitely not my baby.