I had an odd experience today of being the old woman in the room and the only one with a baby today.
I was at a volunteer training class with 8 other women. At least 4 were undergrads, one from my alma mater. Several were older, but still in their (guessing here) 20’s. Two others were married. No one else had a baby. There was more than one awkward moment because of it…I was 8 minutes late because my sitter was caught in traffic (and I had to stop to go through a drive through–without food I would have passed out), and I had to ask for an exception to the no cell phone policy as I need to be available if something happened.
We were talking about what sexuality was, and the group leader asked if reproduction was part of sexuality. The other girls sat there contemplating this question, so I had to speak out as the only woman in the room who had actually shoved a kid out of her vagina to make the point that YES reproduction is part of sexuality. There’s the sex you have because you think you might be ovulating (says the woman who used Ovulation Predictor Kits) and there’s the struggle to regain sexuality post baby, and there’s learning to have sex while the baby sleeps in the crib next to you (or not)…having a kid changes your sexuality profoundly.
There are so many ways in which I don’t feel distinctly different from who I was in college. I’m still somewhat idealistic. I like many of the same authors. I even like some of the same tv shows (although few are still on the air). Many of my friends are the same. But it’s being confronted with an honest to god student who is in that “normal” undergrad age range that really puts the mirror to my face and shows me how far away from all of that I really am.
I am a million miles from living in a dorm, sharing a room, sharing a communal bathroom (hell, I get pissy when my husband uses “my” bathroom just to pee). I have no interest in going to the Alanis Morrisette concert the night before my French midterm is due, or re-dying my hair black because I’m going through a goth phase and I don’t want to look like a poseur on goth night at the local club as I smoke clove cigarette (*headdesk*). I would never sit in a training and ask with absolute sincerity if I can start a conversation with “what pronoun do you prefer” because I can tell the difference between the right environment for that question and the wrong one.
And I have a child. For whatever reason, the being married doesn’t seem as foreign. Plenty of people have significant others in college and plenty live with them. And while I could go off on my gay marriage rant about the over 1000 benefits marriage confers, on a day to day basis it doesn’t really feel all that different from the year we lived together prior to being married. The having a kid? That makes me different.
Having a baby changes you in a profound way that has been expounded upon by others at length. But the thing it does the most is it changes your priorities. The baby is #1. I would never worry about my husband needing to get ahold of me on the 1 in 6,000 chance that he’s been in a car accident. But the slim chance that something medical happens with Elanor or even that she becomes so hysterical that the sitter can’t calm her (she has cried for an hour plus at my in-laws and they don’t call…it upsets me greatly)…I NEED to be able to pick up the phone. I can’t do ANYTHING without considering how Elanor fits into the logistics. I can’t attend a training without arranging for a sitter, waiting for them to show up and then driving to the training myself. I can’t have a vet come and put our cat to sleep without figuring out who will be watching Elanor (my mom) so that she will be out of the picture during what will be a traumatic event for my husband and I.
This morning I don’t think I would have said I was very different from who I was something like 10 year ago…after being the only mom in the room? I’ll admit that I bear very little resemblance to her.