Thursday, February 26, 2009
Baby got Back
I woke up this morning and noticed something was missing... its that perky little division that separates my thigh from my buttocks, the playful concatenate indentation merging a taut basketball derrière with sleek slender thighs, perfectly formed for loping about like a gazelle on the Serengetti plains. It has been replaced with deeply dimpled cottage cheese like folds of flesh and a zaftig saddle of boot-ay that makes Beyoncé look downright anorexic and subsequently me feel more heifer than gazelle like.
This week I am confronting the reality that I am undergoing the most radical change my body has experienced since first sprouting breast buds at 13. And accompanying this is a sense of grief that I am losing a part of my womanhood. It took me a long time to love this body, to appreciate inhabiting my femininity, my sexuality, and frankly, learning how to enjoy flaunting it, playing with it, embracing it, inviting people to enjoy it and telling others to piss off. As I am writing this I remember my first date with Marc... I pulled out the big guns and wore my lacy black tank top under a tight hot pink dress. Marc's eyes were drawn to the swelling apex of my bossom the way gravity is drawn into a black hole. And you know what? I instantaneously loved the way he looked at me. It was not lascivious or intrusive, but appreciative and exciting, and in that moment began an incredibly passionate relationship with him that has only gotten better and amazing over time... But hold the phone, I got pregnant and well... he looks at me differently now, and I feel differently so I wonder: is this it? Is my time as a hot sexy babe over? Am I now a nurturing wholesome voluptuous sexually neutral earth mother? What does it mean to be a sexual being and pregnant? What does it mean for my breasts to be getting so big, not because I splurged 60 grand on a fabulous boob job but because they are preparing to create milk to feed a new life? I am irrevocably entering into a world where my sexuality is changing and my libido will undergo an alteration that is beyond what my ego may desire. The biophysical and psychosocial realities of being a woman, pregnant and becoming a parent -- a mother -- are undeniably reshaping me. I am wondering, how do I meet these changes and feel confident about myself when for so long, I had lived in this body that I experienced as intensely sexy, fun, free, thin, shapely, playful, intelligent and most significantly MINE.
I've know all about MILFS and yummy mummies, I see them scampering about on West 4th frolicking at the Starbucks in their Juicy Couture pants, blond hair extensions, Louis Vuitton diaper bags, and collagen lip injections. I've also seen women who naturally exude a confident sexy quality post-birthing, as though giving birth, being a mother and sexual verve comes as natural to them as breathing. The fact is I want to be like these latter women who have an ingenerate wonderful ease about them, like walking human poetry... but will I be like that? I could dress up and wear clothes that say "Hi I am a mother and I am sexy" but will I feel that way? When I get home and exit public space, will I feel like a hot mama or a libidoless dairy farm?
I realise part of my feelings about my body are vanity but at the same time I want to honour the fact I had the freedom to be an openly sexual being in a context and social conditions where I was not going to stoned to death for exposing my face and hair, or shamed by a religion, or have acid thrown in my face because I wanted an education, or set on fire because of male "honour" -- where I am not constrained by strict rules of sexual conduct such that I've had the extraordinary freedom of being with different people, sharing in that journey of sexual exploration and identity formation. I honour that in having these experiences I know why Marc and I are such a great fit, I know how to work it, to nurture it and to cherish it. So hell ya it's scary to think the sexuality piece might profoundly shift. A piece that has been a cornerstone of our relationship, a piece I revere so deeply that I now feel in some way is slipping away from me.
So searching for my ass is commensurate to this transition from knowing myself as a sexual being into an inchoate pregnant/mother/sexual identity. Here I am, constructing a sense of self through a period of transition whose end point I can't see, whose path I can't predict, and whose boundaries I can't define. In many ways the sexuality I know and experience feels antipodean to an identity of motherhood and yet from a certain standpoint pregnancy is inarguably the consummation of sexuality and motherhood is its offspring. Ay, there's the rub. Being a mother is not anything I ever dreamed about, I didn't have an a priori definition of motherhood ready to go when the pregnancy test gave the two thumbs up. Motherhood is not the pinnacle experience of my life's destiny. It is no accident I chose consciously to delay this long. I was deeply satisfied nourishing my own growth and development as a human being, partaking in the experience of education, relationships, living abroad and the intellectual, emotional and spiritual growth that comes with the expansion of personal horizons. And there within I have great hope for our child. This child, this little human being is not a replacement for something I had, it is not a proxy for what I haven't had, it's not an accessory to my ego, it is not an object, she or he is not my property, he or she will not be some possession I will use to fill up an emotional vacuum inside of me. This child is going to be a little individual. Thus the beauty of this process is it provides Marc and I a golden opportunity to introduce a human being to the world. To provide a foundation and set of guidelines our child can employ, supporting him or her to navigate the complexities of modern human life.
But just because I'm giving birth to a new life doesn't mean I stop being Liz, I will not efface my sense of self and sacrifice my Lizness at the altar of some antiquated definition of motherhood as "no-self". What good am I to a child if I erase myself? But I also know at times my "self" will not be at the forefront of my psyche or be the focus of all my attention. I've had the luxury for most of my adult life to think self indulgently about myself. So what happens to me when this human being arrives and becomes embedded in my psyche and in my heart? I just don't know... The fact is I am already becoming a different Liz, not erasing but shifting in an enigmatic and at times deeply unsettling way. The fact is, some days I wake up and I just don't know who that different Liz is going to be.