I’m getting frustrated with our culture’s constant talk about when women (and dads too) are going to get “back” to their old (fill in the blank….life, body, self, etc.). Becoming a parent, by whatever means you become one, is a metamorphosis. It is a change, a life-altering change. You were one thing – now you are another. There is no going back. You are something entirely new. You are still you, but you are something completely different too.
We do not ask the butterfly when it will be a caterpillar again. Instead, we look at the butterfly with awe and reverence. We respect and appreciate the butterfly for what it has become, what it is now doing, and what it will do. We reflect in awe and wonder at the process that has taken place in order that it could become this new thing – the metamorphosis.
The notion of a woman should return to something she once was – and can truly never fully be again – is counterproductive; in fact, it can be harmful. Rather than a focus (through both language and behavior) on what was, how might we instead promote a new sense of respect and admiration for what was done (the change, the morph) and what now is (the mother, the parent)? What would that sound like? What would it look like? Can we do that? Can we shift our cultural paradigm from regression to progression? Can we, as a society, be more forward focused?
None of this is to say that a parent should never “hit the town,” or “spend a day doing….,” but rather to say that we must stop insisting on it. We must stop implying that this is both feasible and a necessary return. For some, this may mean a mourning phase – this can take many healthy forms. It is necessary to recognize that with this new thing you have morphed into, there had to be something that was left behind. I will never again “hit the town” in the same way I did when I was not a parent. It’s simply not possible. I am a different person. I’m still fun, I’m still silly, I’m still a wild-and-crazy gal, but I’m different too. I’m a lot different. I think differently, I feel differently, I “hit the town” differently.
My point is this: let’s honor that difference, rather than judge it by wishing it away. Let’s talk about the change, the metamorphosis, in a positive way. Let’s focus on, support, and encourage all the things I am now. Look at me, the new mother—a beautiful butterfly, with awe and reverence, rather than question when I’ll go back to being the caterpillar I was.