Friday, November 9, 2012

The Naming of Things

When naming this blog, I did quite a bit of thinking. No wait, I barely thought at all. The name just came to me - the thinking part happened afterward when I started to wonder if I had aptly or incorrectly titled this thing.

I mean, a blog is basically just an expression of self, and I was suddenly acutely insecure. I was a new Mom, sure. But was I the "maternal type?" Misrepresentation of self is a sure sign of cognitive dissonance - and I thought I might be cracked here. I moved quickly from worrying about just the title and thick into worrying about the actual consequences of this discovery. Did it mean I wasn't cut out to be a Mom?

You have to remember that I first started writing here (albeit briefly) when Willow was 10 weeks old, and at that point I was still feeling a bit, well, lost. The word maternal always suggested a natural quality to me, like it should be something simply and inherently felt - I mean its most common phrase pairing is "maternal instinct." That's sounds like it should be pretty darn natural, right? But at the beginning, I didn't feel natural at all. In fact, I felt quite foreign to myself.  What made it worse was that I worried I looked as awkward and fumbling as I felt. It made me uneasy - was I doing this right? If I was, why did I still feel so insecure? Why wasn't this coming naturally? Suddenly the word itself felt like a great weight. I was buckling under the pressure to find something within that I thought was surely lacking.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that there are those women that just seem like they were born to do this job. You know the type - they've been gushing over babies since they were little girls, playing house and daydreaming of the day they will get to be a real Mommy.  And then they go off and have tons of babies that they never seem to get tired of breastfeeding, and it leaves Moms like me feeling even more alien. I mean, unless they are all really good liars, it seems that some people are just naturally better suited for such things. Did it matter that I wasn't one of them? Was Willow getting the short end of the stick because I couldn't get the hang of this as quickly as other people do?

Amble on down the road a bit and things are much different. I do feel maternal, I know I'm a good Mom. I have confidence. Where did it change? I'm not really sure. There are days I'd swear I was right back at the beginning, and then an instant later I can snap back into self-assured mode with ease. I believe part of the comfort in maternal feelings came for me simply by learning. I am maternal because that is what I have become. It is what I've grown into. I am the skill sets I have acquired. I am the instinct now that alluded me so thoroughly at first.

Which brings me to my point: In my haste to find a snappy name for my blog that intimated my personal and vast feelings about life and parenthood (while simultaneously making me sound clever) I had inadvertently stumbled upon a perfect name for very different reasons. Because let's be honest folks, parenting is largely a game of paradoxes just like this one. The road is full of stumbling blocks and concepts that begin to look hazy the longer you stare. There's so much advice and information out there that beginner parents can feel suffocated by all the options. Even in the idea of maternal nature I could see alternatives I didn't even know were there initially. Yes, it could be instinct. Yes, it can also be learned. So what does it matter which way it happens?

Just like with everything in the parenting world - there's more than one right way to do things folks.

Am I maternal? Yes and No.

I am. And I am not. And I think that's ok.

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