Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Secret Identity

(Ed. Note: This was inspired by Kate's amazing post.)

Being a stay at home mother can push the rest of you into the underground. The rest of me, what I used to consider the real me, becomes a secret identity.

It all starts when you are pregnant. Your body drowns in its new layers, one flowing over the other like sap. Oh, I loved it—I swung that big belly arund like a calling card—smiling shyly at the other pregnant women I encountered, and all of the mothers too. I was going to be a part of this vast sisterhood soon! Finally, I had figured out a way to wear my innermost experience for all to see.

Alas, it doesn’t last. Soon, the baby is born, and soon (well, sort of) your body goes back to some facsimile of itself. And you become invisible, a long shadow behind the main attraction, the star. The baby, of course. It happens. You expect it.

There are days I glory in my secret identity, smile knowingly at the most hardcore punk kid I see. Discomfiting her, because who am I? A woman neither young nor old. A mother. Completely normal-seeming. But my smile whispers something to her. I still feel like you, inside. I still feel 17 years old and rebellious and imaginative and artistic and promising! But of course, she can’t see that, and she walks on by.

My secret is safe.

But there are other days, oh, so many days, when all I want is to be seen. When I want the world to morph into a benign funhouse mirror that shows me as I would like to be—wiser, smarter, more creative, more attractive. More. Those are the days that I haunt my blog like a stalker, hugging my comments to myself, keeping obsessive tabs. Looking with an envious eye at sister bloggers who get more attention, more acclaim. More. I want this to remain a secret—even to myself. I want to be able to pretend innocence. But I cannot.

My secret is not safe.

And there are other days, when someone asks me what I do for a living and I hesitate before I answer, Oh, I stay home with my daughter. And I can read the translation of that on his face, Oh, she does nothing. She is nothing. His eyes glaze over, and just like that, I’ve been dismissed. I wonder if I should pull out some erudite fact, perhaps drop the name of a place I used to work. By then, he’s gone, convinced that he’s managed to get away from someone who has nothing to say beyond potty training and sleep deprivation. Convinced that he’d have more to stay to someone with a little more, you know, depth.

On those days, the past feels like a country I’ve never visited. Was it really me who went to college, who graduated? Was it really me who went to work every morning, who brought home a paycheck, who wore heels and dress pants and silk?

I’m not sure.

Some days the writing comes hard, or not at all, and it feels like I’m a secret to myself again. Like I’m pretending, the way I pretended to be a fairy secret agent ballerina Greek Goddess Queen. On those days I peel and peel myself, trying to find my identity. Sometimes, it works. And sometimes, I feel like I have nothing left to say beyond potty training and sleep deprivation.

I don't want my secrets to be safe anymore. I don't want to let other people push me into myself so that I can fit in their box of "stay at home mother" and be unseen.

I want my identity to gleam in the light. So that my Madam, her own identity still a secret being held by the future, can see me, all of the innermost me, and learn.

For more deep secret identities, go here.

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Blogger Remiman said...

You spill your inner reflection on to the page, sharing your secret identity. It's a first step in recognizing her. Now she is ready to expose herself more and more with the confidence that she does fit in, that she does have something to offer.
Your writing is a pleasure to read.

3:31 AM, April 16, 2007  
Blogger Becca said...

Everything you write on this topic sends me catapulting backwards to the time in my life when I was raising my son and trying to discover/keep my own identity intact. You could have lifted the words and feelings directly out my journals from the early 1980's (although you write it so much better than I did!)

I wish that things had changed enough in our world over the ensuing 25 years so that society would allow women to recognize the value and worth of focusing their attention on raising children. You can~and should~consider yourself to be doing important work, in doing that alone. However, you in particular are also doing important work for yourself by writing, sharing your ideas and your stories with those of us who read your words and marvel at your abilities. While you are raising Madam, I think you're also gestating a powerful talent within yourself, honing your skills, stretching your writing wings. In the years ahead of you, I believe you will find great ways to use the skills you're exploring.

With every word of yours that I read, your "secret identity" ~ a gifted writer~becomes clearer and clearer.

7:34 AM, April 16, 2007  
Blogger gautami tripathy said...

You have poured out your inner most thoughts here. You are on the verge of discovering yourself. No doubt you would do that...sooner or later...

8:56 AM, April 16, 2007  
Blogger wendy said...

What you did for me today?? You made me nod and think and agree. You pointed me to Kate..and her wonderful quote from Anne lammott. We all need to be seen. What a lovely act of revolution..To not go quietly into that night.

You are everything. You are seed, and soil, and sun to grow. You are seasons repeating, the beginning and ending. You are a glorious woman.

Don't you ever forget it.

9:28 AM, April 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, she does nothing. She is nothing. His eyes glaze over, and just like that, I’ve been dismissed.

Very sad that people are so caught up in their own little worlds that someone who does things differently is of no use to them. You can't change them, but you can change your response to them.

To wit, I often tell dull people that I'm a "kept woman." That usually startles them enough that I gain the upper hand in the conversation and they have to keep up with me!!

10:40 AM, April 16, 2007  
Blogger Tammy said...

This was so honest and powerful. It's a privilege to raise a human being and I hate how society makes you feel. Don't lose your creative self but be proud of the most important job I know. This coming from a mommy who paid someone else to raise her kid's until I retired.

You go girl!

11:29 AM, April 16, 2007  
Blogger Tori said...

This is an incredibly raw, touching post. Your post has come at such an important time for me when I feel like I am at the cusp of wanting to become a mother. You are there, in the trenches, negotiating the many versions of you and motherhood. This post shows the love that you have for your child and who you are and the courage that you have to be you shines through in your truth.

2:37 PM, April 16, 2007  
Blogger Patois said...

Would that we could just glaze over when asshole people ask such lame questions, as if a job, a paying job, whatever you want to call it, is all that matters. I'm there with you. I'm feeling it more and more the longer I'm no longer working outside the home. I'm feeling it from people who are meeting me for the first time, people who don't know me. I'm working on my glazing over at them when they pose idiotic questions because they're unable to hold a conversation without cue cards. Marvelous post.

3:51 PM, April 16, 2007  
Blogger bee said...

hi, sweetie.

for some reason i just found out that you nominated me for a thinking blogger award now. *blush* and i'm your crush? *blush blush* that's such an honour. i love your writing so much, and to be honest, (although i think i've told you this) i've had a crush on your writing for A WHILE.

now, to this post: oh, mardou, my heart breaks. in a good way, you know? how do i KNOW that you're one of those people whose souls burn through their eyes, for anyone who's lucky enough to look? you're always ferociously, authentically yourself here - even if you're 'timid' or questioning....i see you.

you are more creative and inspired/ing than you know.

4:12 PM, April 16, 2007  
Anonymous Frida said...

Do you feel like here in blogland we see you? I hope so - at least a little.


5:13 PM, April 16, 2007  
Blogger DJPare said...

Great post!
Your identity sure came out in that writing!

7:10 PM, April 16, 2007  
Anonymous KG said...

Oh, you're writing my song. This post really touched me --- that transition from young, cool adventure woman to mama 24/7 is a very bumpy road. (Ouch.)

Rest assured, you are still you. You are all STILL THERE, though I know those invisible days so well, too.

Talk proudly about potty training and sleep deprivation --- those who walk away and judge you based on that are shallow fools who know nothing about real, down-to-earth life.

And don't forget --- YOU ARE ALSO A WRITER! :)

8:07 PM, April 16, 2007  
Blogger Amber said...

Oh, that last line! Fab-u-licious.

And this whole post was so good. I hear you! I identify with what you say. I, too, am here right now. Just the other day I found myself explaining that I am starting back to grad school...Because, why? Why need to say that? I do A LOT as a mom. We are still those people we were--And more!

You said it so well.


9:14 PM, April 16, 2007  
Anonymous tinker said...

Through your words here, I think I can see your light shining out. A wonderfully revealing post!

1:16 AM, April 18, 2007  
Blogger iGoddess said...

hey, chica, chin up. i wish i could say it gets better but hey, it's motherhood. synonymous with sacrifice and pain, and yet somehow we find it rewarding and take nothing but pride in watching our children grow.

thank you for sharing. this entry took me back in time to when it could have been me writing this. oh, wait, i did. once upon a time. =) just be a good mama, admit you're human and not god, and one day people will see you as the wily and elusive, special and rare Great Parent.

2:48 PM, April 18, 2007  
Blogger kate said...

This is so wonderful. And I am so honored that something I wrote inspired you. I'm right with you.

12:45 PM, April 24, 2007  

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